The second-half of the season kicks off for the New York Islanders when they visit Madison Square Garden this weekend to face-off against the dreaded Rangers. Everything is in front of the Isles as a lot is at stake. Sebastian Aho has a golden opportunity ahead of him these next three months.
Could anyone possibly imagined that when the New York Islanders were deciding who to select in the 5th round of last years draft, that player could help them this season?
Due to recent injuries on defense that includes losing Calvin de Haan and prospect Devon Toews for the season, as well as Johnny Boychuk (currently out week-to-week), having Sebastian Aho contribute would be a big help for Doug Weight and the club.
At 21 years of age, Aho was drafted last June in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Swedish defensemen went previous undrafted in prior years, probably because he is undersized at 5’10 and 165 lbs.
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The last four years Aho has been honing his game in the Swedish Elite League playing for Skelleflea AIK. Aho improved each year with the club especially last season when he produced 30 points in 50 games.
Aho was one of the best players for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the first half of the season, posting 9 goals and 20 points in just 29 games while being a plus player. Aho earned the call-up.
There is an opportunity for Aho with this Islander team. With Calvin de Haan gone for the season. and the up and down play of fellow young blue liners, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield, Aho can claim a permanent spot with consistency and solid play.
No doubt Aho can provide some offense as well. Everyone saw that the other day when the rookie scored his first NHL goal and then set-up Cal Clutterbuck for the tying goal in the third period.
No one is asking Aho and the other Islander youngsters to be saviors, outside of Mathew Barzal of course. But these youngsters need to be solid contributors and work their tails off on a nightly basis.
If the Islander kids can do that, it will go a long way for the blue and orange to print playoff tickets this Spring.
Aho still has a lot of work to do regarding his game. Let’s remember he is a rookie and just 21 years of age. However, what he showed the other day against Jersey gives everyone a glimpse of the positive play he can bring to the rink.