The 2022-23 season was chock full of ups and downs. The NY Islanders were consistently average all season long and claimed a spot in the postseason on the very last day of their regular season by the skin of their teeth. Several things went wrong for the Isles this season, one of which many track back to last spring when the Islanders fired their former head coach Barry Trotz in favor of his right-hand man Lane Lambert. However, it worked out for one defenseman, as Sebastian Aho had a turnaround season in 2022-23.
New York Islanders 2022-23 report card: Sebastian Aho
Look, when general manager Lou Lamoriello re-signed Aho to a two-year NHL contract last summer, it left a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering what the Swedish defenseman did to convince Lamoriello that was a good idea. Yet, it appears the Islanders saw something in Aho that made them believe he could thrive under a new voice, and he did just that. Aho almost doubled his point production from last season (12) to this season (23), scoring five goals and 18 assists, a new career high in goals, assists, and points.
As a puck mover, Aho has always been pretty good in that regard. Aho has plus skating ability that helped the Islanders transition the puck from one zone to the next, something the Islanders have struggled with in the past and present, but with Aho on the ice they're noticeably better. In his own end, he was about as good as you'd expect a third-pairing, sixth-defenseman to be. Sometimes he was good, other times you'd question his deployment and why Lambert had him on the ice.
For someone that was seen as a seventh defenseman, and maybe even less than that coming into 2022-23, Aho skated in 77 games this season and was a pleasant surprise to most as a reliable third-pairing defensman. Because the Islanders were able to rely on Aho like they never have before, he gets a B+ for 2022-23.