Sebastian Aho of the Islanders defends against Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers...

Sebastian Aho of the Islanders defends against Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers at UBS Arena on Oct. 26. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Sebastian Aho has aged out of being considered a prospect. For so long, the slick-skating Swede with offensive upside was a tantalizing candidate to join the Islanders’ defense corps yet could never earn a full-time role in the top six.

Now, at 26, and after an uncertain offseason, Aho may finally be taking that next step to being an NHL regular. Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jackets at UBS Arena marked Aho’s 12th straight game working with Scott Mayfield as the Islanders’ third pair.

“The more games in a row you get, the more comfortable you get,” Aho said. “Me and Maysie playing together, you get to know your teammates more on the ice and that helps you be more confident and you make more plays. You don’t feel like you have to make plays. You just play consistently good.”

 Aho was a fifth-round pick in 2017 yet Saturday marked just his 73rd NHL game since making his debut on Dec. 13, 201. It has taken a while but he has finally embraced the cliched truism that simpler is better.

Aho’s skating abilities were always clear but struggles in the defensive zone and with turnovers kept him from remaining in the lineup. This season, he has cut his giveaways in half.

Per, Aho entered Saturday with four giveaways in his first 11 games, an average of .36 per game. Last season, Aho had 27 giveaways in 36 games, an average of .75.

Per Natural Stat Trick, that’s translated into Aho having a Corsi For percentage of 51.69 after sitting at 47.07 last season.

“Just try to make the right play all the time and not look for the seam across,” said Aho, who had one goal in 11 games entering Saturday. “Just get [the puck] up instead. I’m starting to get more and more comfortable with joining the rush and trying to be an extra offensive threat so we get a deeper rush all the time.”

Aho credited not attempting the more dangerous seam passes or “try to dangle that last guy,” with the reduction in his turnovers.

“He understands that he has to keep it simple,” coach Lane Lambert said. “Less is more. You don’t have to do too much. You’re very effective just keeping the play simple.”

“We’re not going for that home-run pass, necessarily,” Mayfield said. “We’re trying to keep it simple. For me and him it’s all about just moving the puck north quick, finding that open guy and join when we can.”

The Islanders went into the offseason knowing they would need two defensemen to replace Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene, both who retired. Alexander Romanov was acquired from the Canadiens.

Robin Salo, a second-round pick in 2017, beat out Aho and other internal candidates such as Grant Hutton, Paul LaDue, Dennis Cholowski and Samuel Bolduc for the other spot with a strong training camp. Salo started the season’s first four games paired with Mayfield before Lambert swapped in Aho.

Salo remains on the Islanders’ roster and continues to push for a spot in the rotation. At some point, so will Bolduc, a second-round pick in 2019.

“I thought I had a good camp, too, but it was very competitive,” Aho said. “They went with [Salo] at the start. I was trying to work on some stuff when I wasn’t playing so I would feel more comfortable when I got in.”

Aho agreed to a two-year, $1.65 million deal on July 9 after becoming a Group 6 unrestricted free agent as a player older than 25 with at least three professional seasons who had not played 75 NHL games.

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