Hurricanes, Aho talking contract extension

21-year-old Finn led Carolina in goals, points in 2017-18

Whether or not Sebastian Aho is deemed ready to be the team’s top center will determine many of the moves the Hurricanes try to make this offseason. (Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports)

The Carolina Hurricanes have begun contract extension talks with Sebastian Aho as he gets set to enter the final year of his entry-level contract, the 21-year-old forward said Thursday.

“We’ve been talking about something,” Aho told reporters during the NHL’s European player media tour, “but I’ve got nothing to say yet.”

Aho added that he is unsure if a deal will get 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.”

Aho carries a salary-cap hit of $925,000 this season before potentially becoming a restricted free agent. He scored career highs of 29 goals and 36 assists in 78 games last season, leading Carolina in both goals and points. He had 24 goals and 25 assists in 82 games as a rookie in 2016-17.

Aho was a second-round pick by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Draft out of Finland and has already become a franchise cornerstone. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has been vocal about Aho’s importance to the franchise and has said he would like to sign him to an eight-year extension — the longest contract allowed in the NHL — to keep him in Raleigh.

Field Level Media contributed to this report.