Islanders Sebastian Aho frustrated but still part of future plans

Sebastian Aho #28 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Sebastian Aho #28 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

New York Islanders prospect Sebastian Aho has seen few NHL games since being drafted in 2017, but he’s still in the Islanders plans.

Sebastian Aho, the New York Islanders fifth-round pick from the 2017 NHL draft, is back home in Sweden, working out and waiting to see what happens with the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

Just like the NHL, the AHL season has yet to decide what will happen with the remainder of the 2019-20 season. But recent reports suggest that the NHL’s developmental league might very well cancel the remainder of the season.

For Sebastian Aho, it’s yet another waiting game.

For three years since making the jump to North America, Aho has waited for his shot to make the NHL. While he had a 22 game stint in 2017-18, where he looked pretty good, he hasn’t made the jump back to the majors since.

Even with strong performances for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he’s found it frustrating not getting playing time in the NHL.

A Little Frustrating

Speaking to (translation from Google Translate), Aho talked about how he’s felt frustrated by his lack of NHL playing time for the Islanders.

"– It was a little frustrating. In the beginning you are just happy to get to practice with the team every day and see and learn. Then it’s clear, it doesn’t really matter what level you are at – you always want to play matches.– It gets a little frustrating to just train every day and then sit on the stands and watch. It is tedious. I had hoped to get some match to show me and try to beat me in, but now it was not so. That’s a shame."

Over three seasons with the Bridgeport Sounds Tigers, Aho has played 156 games and scored 21 goals and 105 points. He’s been in the top ten for scoring every year since joining the Sound Tigers and is behind only Kieffer Bellows in scoring this season.

That lack of NHL time is due to the Islanders having a loaded blue line at the NHL level with Adam Pelech, Devon Toews, and Nick Leddy on the left, as well as Thomas Hickey just below the top three.

It’s clear that Sebastian Aho is close to outgrowing the AHL (if he hasn’t already). And with three of the four lefty defenders listed already signed to NHL contracts, it’s not likely that Aho will find NHL time in 2020-21 either.

Devon Toews is the only one who’s contract expires this year. But the pending-RFA will certainly be signed to a multi-year deal before the 2020-21 NHL season.

While the Aho, who is a pending-RFA himself, hasn’t had any talks with the Isles yet, he’s been reassured by the Islanders that he is in their future plans.

"At least they say they have me in the future plans and tell me not to give up. If I do what I am good at, my chance will come, they say more or less. I can’t do more than that."

With an impending cap crunch and with Nick Leddy still having good trade value, the Islanders could move the veteran puck-moving left-shot defenseman and slot Aho in on the roster. Maybe. The Isles have shown hesitance to play inexperienced players (see Noah Dobson’s usage), so having two – Aho and Dobson – on the roster wouldn’t fit with the way they like to set up their NHL team.

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For now, Sebastian Aho will still have to wait for another shot at the NHL. Maybe it comes in 2020-21 or the year after. Maybe it doesn’t even come with the New York Islanders. But if he keeps playing and growing he will get his shot at the NHL sooner-rather-than-later.