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Aho, Hurricanes discussing contract extension

Forward can become restricted free agent after this season

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes have begun negotiations on a contract extension.


[RELATED: Inside look at Carolina Hurricanes | Carolina Hurricanes key statistics]


The 21-year-old forward was careful not to reveal any details, but said Thursday that his agent, Gerry Johannson, has been talking with the Hurricanes and is hopeful of signing long term. Aho can become a restricted free agent after this season.

"We've been talking about something," Aho said at the NHL European Player Media Tour. "But I've got nothing to say yet."

The Hurricanes have made a flurry of changes this offseason, but it's understandable why they want to re-sign Aho, who is entering the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract.

Carolina's second-round pick (No. 35) at the 2015 NHL Draft, Aho led the Hurricanes with 29 goals and 65 points last season and was second with 36 assists (behind Teuvo Teravainen's 41) in 78 games. Those totals were up from 24 goals, 25 assists and 49 points as a rookie in 2016-17.

Video: CAR@PHI: Aho beats Elliot with nifty backhand

The Rauma, Finland native would like to take another step in his development.

"I want to be an even better player and lead that way," Aho said. "I'm not the guy who yells in the locker room. I try to lead by my example."

The Hurricanes have revamped their roster since the end of last season, when they went 36-35-11 and didn't qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. Forward Jeff Skinner was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Aug. 2 for forward prospect Cliff Pu, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and a third-round and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defenseman prospect Adam Fox were acquired in a trade from the Calgary Flames on June 23 for forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin.

The Hurricanes signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Calvin de Haan to a four-year contract worth $18.2 million July. 3.

Rod Brind'Amour replaced Bill Peters as Hurricanes coach after Peters resigned April 20, and Don Waddell was named general manager May 8. Ron Francis was fired as president of hockey operations April 30.

"I guess I knew something was going to happen, but you never know exactly what," Aho said of the changes. "I think we needed change a little bit, but we'll see how this works. Every move they made is because they want to get us better. Everyone wants to win, and they're doing to try to do that."

Aho would like to be part of the solution. He said he is unsure if the contract will be done before the start of the season.

"It's tough to say," he said. "I'm sure they're working on it and we'll see what happens."

In the meantime, Aho said he has spoken to Brind'Amour on the telephone this offseason but they have yet to discuss his role. After Aho finished last season playing center, Brind'Amour said he might move him back to wing.

"Actually, I played in the [2018 IIHF World Championship] as a center and I got some good confidence in the (face-off) circle and it's just [getting used to] playing the center game more," Aho said. "It's good to know I can play as a center, but let's see what [Brind'Amour] thinks. He's going to pick a spot for me and I'll play it."

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