Looking to make the leap: Sebastian Aho

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This is part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

The Hurricanes started to get a look at their promising future last season when they used one of the youngest blue lines in the NHL.

It’s not just the young defense that is worth watching in Carolina. They also have some pretty impressive young talent at the forward positions, and 2015 second-round draft pick Sebastian Aho could be one of the guys to help bring some much-needed firepower to an offense that was in the bottom-five in goals scored a season ago.

Playing for Karpat in the Finnish league in 2015-16, Aho was a point-per-game player and finished as the team’s leading scorer even though he was still only 18 years old and played in just 45 games for the team (the second leading scorer on the team, who was six points behind Aho, played in 55 games, just for comparisons sake).

Along with his strong season in Finland, he also put together a pretty dominant showing at the World Junior Championships where he finished as the second leading scorer in the tournament with 14 points in seven games for Finland. Playing on the same team as two of the top-three picks in the 2016 draft, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, it might have been easy for his play at the tournament to get overlooked. But he definitely caught the eye of his future NHL coach, Bill Peters, who was behind the bench for team Canada. Here is what Peters told the News & Observer about what he saw from Aho shortly after the tournament:

“Sebastian was outstanding in the semifinal against Russia, and he was dangerous against us, too,” Peters said. “You’re definitely aware of him when he’s on the ice. I’d be shocked if he comes in and can’t make our hockey team. He’s done it at every level.”

It’s not yet known where, exactly, Aho will fit into the Hurricanes’ lineup this season but all signs point to him getting a pretty big opportunity for a team that desperately needs to add some finishing ability.

General manager Ron Francis already said back in May that Aho is “certainly penciled into our lineup, if not in pen” for 2016.

Carolina is going to be putting one of the youngest teams in the league on the ice this season but there is definitely a ton potential and individual talent among that group. In recent years they have already seen players like Justin Faulk, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm and Jaccob Slavin start to make the jump to the big leagues and show the potential to be impact players.

This year it is going to be Aho getting that opportunity.