Sebastian Aho has been the most important piece for the Carolina Hurricanes since entering the league in 2016, helping guide the organization out of a rebuild and an 11-year playoff drought.
He has paced the roster in goals each of the last six seasons, turning into a two-time All-Star and alternate captain in Raleigh.
After a 2022-2023 campaign that saw Aho record 36 goals and 31 assists, good for second on the team, NHL.com has the Finland native labeled as the Hurricanes’ top projected fantasy performer.
But, when NHL Network producers and analysts came together to rank the game’s best centers, where did the 26-year old end up?
With a system that doesn’t consistently churn out 90 or 100-point scorers, it may come as no surprise that Aho is not in the top five or the top-10.
He enters the 2023-2024 season ranked as the NHL’s 16th-best center, one spot ahead of Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and one spot behind Ottawa’s Tim Stutzie.
Aho was slotted as the fifth best center in the Metropolitan Division, headlined by Sidney Crosby, Jack Hughes, Mike Zibanejad, and Nico Hischier.
Despite not registering as one of the league’s best on the list, as that title goes to the likes of Connor McDavid, Nathan Mackinnon, and Leon Draisaitl, Aho’s importance to the Hurricanes cannot be overstated.
He sits top five in both goals scored (218) and points (468) in Hartford/Carolina history, but perhaps his most impactful play has come in the postseason.
Aho is tied for third in playoff games played in a Hurricanes sweater, but has been the organization’s best performer, netting a franchise-high 23 goals and tallying 58 points.
Luckily, for Carolina and the fanbase in Raleigh, it appears the former second round pick will distance himself even further as a postseason leader and potentially break franchise records, as he signed an eight-year, $78-million extension this offseason.
With what are presumed to be his best seasons ahead of him, expect Aho to find himself near the top of the list in the years to come.