It wasn’t this way with Jeff Skinner, not when he was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes.
It wasn’t this way with Elias Lindholm or Noah Hanifin, both top-five draft picks by the Canes.
The Alexander Semin free-agent signing created considerable buzz a few years ago. That didn’t last long.
But Finnish forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, who put in their first training camp practice Monday with the Canes, again have ratcheted up the expectation level among Canes fans.
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“With good players, that’s what comes with it,” Skinner said this week.
Aho, 19, became something of a teenage sensation in Finland while Teravainen, 22, won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks before being traded this summer to Carolina. Both played for Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, failing to qualify for the tournament semifinals last week but being a part of the excitement and environment in Toronto.
As Aho put it, “It was a great start to the season, and I proved to myself I could play at that level.”
Aho, a second-round draft pick by Carolina in 2015, was surprised Monday when told many Canes fans seem eager to see him on the ice and scoring goals for a young team aspiring to make the playoffs.
It’s good the fans like me but ... I just want to play my best and show I’m a good player.
Canes forward Sebastian Aho
“I haven’t heard that,” Aho said, smiling. “It’s only talk. It’s good the fans like me but ... I just want to play my best and show I’m a good player.”
Teravainen’s trade, with veteran forward Bryan Bickell, to Carolina was the talk of the NHL in June. The Canes sent two draft picks to the Blackhawks, who were seeking salary-cap relief and looking to move Bickell’s contract.
The price was steep for Chicago: Teravainen, the Blackhawks’ first-round pick in 2012. A skilled player who could play center or the wing, he was a part of Chicago’s Cup run in 2015, then had 13 goals and 22 assists in 78 games last season for a team loaded with such top-end offensive talent as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Artemi Panarin.
“That’s a great team and when you make that team you know you are a good player,” Teravainen said Monday. “It’s really tough to make the top two lines and be a difference-maker.
“Everything is new for me now. It’s a fresh start, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a good chance to take the next step and be a difference-maker here.”
In the past year, Aho has played for Karpat in the Finnish Elite League and was the team’s top scorer last season with 20 goals and 25 assists in 45 games. He also centered the line of Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi in the 2016 World Junior Championship as Finland won the gold medal in Helsinki.
“The atmosphere at the rink, in the games was incredible,” Aho said.
After Karpat’s season, Aho joined the Finnish national team in the 2016 World Championship in Russia, winning a silver medal. All in all, a lot of games.
“I played a lot, and I think I’m stronger and faster and developed very well last season,” Aho said.
Chosen for Team Finland in the World Cup, Aho again played on a line with Laine – the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets – and center Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers.
Aho said Monday he prefers the wing. Teravainen, asked the same question, smiled and said cener or wing, it doesn’t matter. He probably will get a look in the middle.
Aho and Teravainen were not scheduled to play in the Canes’ first two exhibition games, Monday and Tuesday on the road, and could make their first PNC Arena game appearance Friday in the exhibition against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I just met Sebastian this summer and have never played with him,” Teravainen said. “I like his game. He’s a smart kid, moves well, sees the ice well, good hands and everything. I’m really looking forward to playing with him.”
A lot of Canes fans are looking forward to it, too.