Fresh off of All-Star weekend, the Carolina Hurricanes posted a 3-0-0 record this past week. Meanwhile, the coming out party of Sebastian Aho continued.
The Finnish rookie found the back of the net four times in three games, netting his first hat trick in any professional league, including both North America and Finland, and game-winning goals against the Flyers and Oilers.
The 19-year-old become the youngest player in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history to net a hat trick, and the possibilities seem endless for what this young player can do with his career.
On a line with Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm, Aho has been a primary source of offense, and in that role, he has thrived and his confidence is at an all-time high.
He’s shooting the puck hard and he’s doing it often from all over the ice.
In Tuesday’s hat trick outing alone, Aho showed off his ability to score in different ways.
For his first act, Sebastian Aho came flying through the offensive zone off of a line change, and Jordan Staal found him streaking to the front of the net.
In tight, Aho showed fantastic edge work and shifted the puck from his backhand to his forehand and embarrassed defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and netminder Steve Mason.
We've grown accustomed to seeing that kind of skating from Jeff Skinner, who uses his agility and aforementioned edge work to move around the offensive zone. It makes him that much more dangerous both with and without the puck.
Sebastian Aho is a fantastic skater, and he put it on display there. He isn't a blazing fast skater, but his shiftiness is impressive. He avoids defenders and is able to finish incredibly efficiently at the front of the net.
His second goal on Tuesday started with some skill at the blue line. He was able to take advantage of a misplayed mid-air puck from a world class player in Claude Giroux and delicately keep it in the offensive zone for a quick odd-man rush.
He then carried the puck to the middle of the ice and looked off Radko Gudas just enough to create a clear passing lane to Elias Lindholm. From there, he found the soft spot on his one-time side and was able to sneak a mis-hit puck past Mason.
The least impressive part of his play was his shot, but when you’re playing the way he has been playing, you tend to get those good bounces.
If you want to see a better example of the power that Aho can put behind a one-timer, here you go:
His powerplay goal against the Oilers on Friday was an absolute howitzer from the top of the right circle. He leaned into the puck and opened up his body to release a cannon on net through a well-placed screen by Elias Lindholm.
Going back to his dominant Tuesday game, Aho capped off his hat trick with another beauty.
In part, this is a result of some great puck movement from the Hurricanes’ top powerplay unit. They’ve been clicking ever since the All-Star break.
But, wow, this shot was incredible.
With Andy MacDonald crouching in front of him and a big goalie in Steve Mason covering the net pretty well, Sebastian Aho released a perfect shot that couldn’t have been any more accurate.
Tripp Tracy used the word ”sling” to describe his motion on the shot, and that’s pretty much on the money. Aho received the puck, pulled it back, and fired it all in one quick and fluent motion in an incredible display talent on the man advantage.
Game in and game out, Sebastian Aho has gotten better and better. We haven’t seen this from a forward in his rookie season since Jeff Skinner did it in a big way back in 2010-11 en route to a Calder Trophy honor.
With big name rookies Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine not disappointing thus far, a Calder nod likely isn’t in Aho’s future, but we can take solace in knowing that this is a special hockey player who has all the intangibles that can make him an elite player at this level.
He’s quickly risen to third on the team in scoring, and he may just be on pace to surpass Victor Rask and Skinner. If it doesn’t happen this season, there’s no reason to believe that Aho can’t do it as soon as next year. That’s not a slight to Rask or Skinner, either, but instead a point to how talented and smart the rookie truly is.
His goal-scoring as of late has been incredible, and the two-way smarts, playmaking ability, and skating acumen that we have seen from him through just 51 NHL games suggests that the sky is the limit for Aho and what he can do for this organization for many years to come.
Joining the likes of Rask, Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin, and Brett Pesce, Sebastian Aho appears to be yet another post-first-round steal that teams will be regretting that they passed up on.