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2014 NHL Draft Prospect Profile #36: Sebastian Aho

Position: D
Current team: Skelleftea (SHL)
Date of Birth: February 17, 1996
Place of Birth: Umea, Sweden
Height / Weight: 5′ 9″ / 165
Shoots: L

As a skilled puck moving defenseman, a lot of scouts have been impressed with Sebastian Aho’s hockey sense and leadership ability, but his relative lack of size and concerns about his ability to play on the smaller North American ice surface have caused him to fluctuate up and down in the rankings almost constantly leading up to this year’s draft – so much so that Central Scouting chose to leave him off their final European rankings.

Scouting Reports:

Aho, who is on the smaller side, especially for a defenseman, makes up for his lack of size with his skill, grit and leadership.

Although only 5-foot-9, Aho is not afraid to get physical and will also go down to block shots. Offensively, he is very skilled with the puck and has the skating ability to effectively carry it into the attacking zone. He is however an effective passer as well, making solid “multi-zone” stretch passes. – Pro Puck Prospects

Sebastian Aho, not to be confused with the Finnish forward with the same name (no relation), is a highly-skilled but undersized puck moving defenseman. Offensively inclined he plays with a competitiveness that belies his size and is willing to block shots or passes if necessary. Physically over-matched at times, his talent level make him a legitimate prospect. – Hockey’s Future

Why He’d Be A Good Fit In Columbus:

Aho’s a gamble, but Columbus needs to restock their defensive pipeline. They have a similar player in the pipeline with Mike Reilly, who has a slight physical edge, but both are gifted puck movers who could find themselves quarterbacking an NHL power play if they continue to develop. Aho also has a reputation for being a strong leader (he’s been Team Sweden’s captain at the U17 and U18 levels and for being willing to get physical despite his size. If he can continue to “play big”, that might be the edge he needs to really break out as an NHL prospect.

On the other hand, if his skill can’t overcome his relative lack of size, especially in situations where he’s trying to take guys who are five inches taller and twenty or thirty pounds heavier off the puck, he could find himself slipping back down the depth chart quickly – and perhaps returning to Europe before long.

Right now, the odds are that Sebastian Aho is going to drop past the second round (even some of the latest projections that do have him being drafted expect he will, at best, be a fourth rounder). If he’s still on the board in the fourth or fifth round, why not take a chance? I seem to recall a sixth round pick back a few years ago who everyone thought was too small for the NHL, and that one worked out just fine.