After suffering several key injuries and entering a dangerous five game skid, the young Swede Sebastian Aho may be a exactly what a defensively deficient New York Islanders team needs going forward.
When both Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk went down, it looked as if the New York Islanders defensive woes would only grow. Each played a key role on the top two pairs, de Haan being the expert on blocking shots and Boychuk as a part of the penalty kill. However, their absence did give defenseman Sebastian Aho a chance to make his NHL debut.
Even only playing in three games so far, 21-year-old Aho has been able to impress. His best of these games came this past Sunday when he not only scored his first NHL of his career but also provided a beautiful feed on the game-tying goal in the third period.
While it’s clear to fans the impact that the Swedish rookie is already making, it seems less clear to the Islanders’ coaching staff; since his call up, Aho has already been scratched several times for the veteran Dennis Seidenberg.
The Problem With Seidenberg
Dennis Seidenberg’s usefulness for the Islanders has been spent. With only 5 assists through 36 games so far this season and some of the lowest corsi numbers of any defenseman on the team, he is neither an offensive nor a shut down player at the blue line.
He has become a liability around the crease, with more than one egregious turnover a game guaranteed, often leaving his partner for the night stranded. Despite this, Doug Weight seems confident enough in Seidenberg to play him over Aho and even give him first line minutes alongside Nick Leddy.
While veteran presence is not something to disregard, in this case, Dennis Seidenberg is only a detriment to the New York Islanders. At this point in the season, the only reason he shouldn’t be waived is in case of another injured defenseman.
In October, Doug Weight preached about giving the rookies priority over veterans. Now would be the perfect time to prove it. Give Sebastian Aho, the rookie who matched nearly half of Dennis Seidenberg’s point total in one game, the chance to improve the team’s defense and break into the NHL.
For now, this seems like the plan. However, it is vital to keep playing the rookie even after Johnny Boychuk, the casualty the warranted Aho’s call up, returns. While he’s still learning, he would be a direct improvement for the New York Islanders blue line for the remainder of the season.