We're moving on to defenseman and first up is Sebastian Aho. Aho was extended for two years in Oct. 2020 with the stipulation that in year one he was on a two-way contract and in year two it shifted to a one-way contract. The extension came following an AHL All-Star appearance for the then 22-year-old during a season where he led then Bridgeport Sound Tigers defensemen in points with 30 points (three goals, 27 assists) in 49 games this season. Since then, it hasn't quite worked out for Aho as an NHL defenseman for the New York Islanders as he heads into this summer as a Group 6 unrestricted free agent.
This is a continuation of the player-level report cards that we started this offseason. You can read the other ones here:
-New York Islanders (Team Level Report Card)
This is going to be Aho's strongest category. The Swedish defenseman drew into more games than the Islanders likely anticipated due to a number of defensemen placed in Covid protocol this season. The injury to Ryan Pulock early in the year also left a spot up for grabs and when Robin Salo or Grant Hutton wasn't in the lineup, it was Aho. In 36 games, Aho tallied two goals and 10 assists for 12 points. That's about a 27-point pace in an 82-game season. His 12 points is a career-high in what's been an inconsistent NHL career having played 22 games in 2017-18, then not again until 2020-21 where he drew into three games, and then this years 36.
27-points would have placed Aho in the top-100 defenseman in terms of total points, sitting in the 73-76 range tied with defenseman named Matt Dumba, Hampus Lindholm, Jeff Petry, and Chris Wideman. That's pretty good so in Aho's strongest category, he gets a B-.
Looking at Aho's 0.17 relative xGA/60 at 5on5, he ranks 17th out of 22 skaters and seventh out of eight defensemen. Because of his smaller size, he's a good skater which would lead you to believe he would be able to skate the puck out of his own zone more often than not, however that was not the case. Aho committed 27 giveaways this season, 23 of them coming in his own end of the ice. He struggled to push the puck forward and away from danger more often than not.
Because of defensive struggles and too many turnovers in high-danger areas, Aho gets a D- for at least not being dead last in relative xGA/60 this season.
Impact vs. Reliance: F
Only one skater on the Islanders scored worse than Aho's -0.11 game score meaning he made the second-least amount of impact of any Islander skater. Aho's 16:27 TOI/GP doesn't give him a pass either, despite the fact that he was the least utilized defenseman this season. He received a healthy enough amount of minutes on average to make a bigger impact than he did.
Because Aho's reliance heavily outweighs his impact, he receives an F.
Final Grade: D
Given Aho transitioned to a one-way contract this season, the expectation was that he wouldn't even see any time at the AHL level. And although he didn't, he also didn't quite take that next step as a reliable NHLer. For that, he gets a D.