It was reported on February 28th that Canadiens prospect Jesse Ylönen was going to finish this season in North America. He is now a member of the Laval Rocket. But what exactly can he bring to the table and what should the expectations be for him?
Ylönen was drafted with the 35th overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2018 NHL draft held in Dallas, Texas. Since being selected he has spent two years developing with the Lahti Pelicans of Liiga in Finland. In 103 games he recorded 25 goals, 24 assists for 49 points.
Ylönen is a shifty Finnish winger who prides himself on moving the puck quickly, getting into supporting areas to help his teammates out and his dynamic offensive abilities.
He is flashy, dynamic and his style is very eye-catching. He skates very well and has immense ability to move the puck through the various zones. His overall game is skill-based which is something the organization lacks a lot throughout both the Canadiens and the Rocket. He is exactly what the team needs. When skill was added to the Rocket’s lineup this year it showed promise and Ylönen being added to the group of Kotkaniemi, Poehling, Brook, Fleury, and company is a great bonus.
One of Jesse’s underrated qualities is his release. Even though his production was down in this year compared to last year, the whole Pelicans lineup produced less, he still managed to shoot more with 189 shots in 2019-2020 vs. 144 in 2018-2019. We will see him shoot more when he plays with better linemates. Maybe he plays with Kotkaniemi. That decision up to Joel Bouchard to make.
In the video below you can see how quickly Jesse releases the puck and precise he was being so close to the net.
Another item to take away from the video above is how he positions himself in a scoring chance knowing his teammate will be looking to feed him in the slot. He falls in an empty area between the Swiss defenders and allows his stick to be placed in a lane where his teammate could pass the puck to him. High hockey IQ.
In the video below you can see his high hockey IQ again as he retreats into an open area where he becomes an option should his team have control. His team does get control of the puck and he scores a one-timer. The goalie in the net is his new teammate Cayden Primeau.
Now that we know what Ylönen can bring we can address what his route to the NHL might look like now that he’s in the Canadiens back yard.
Ylönen will likely spend the full 2020-2021 season in Laval in order to get himself used to the North American game. There isn’t as many hits or roughing in Europe as we see here. He will have to get used to the tough play along the corners and the odd hits during games.
There is no rush to see him in Montreal as soon as possible. The team needs to be patient with him and not have the backlash they had with Kotkaniemi. He is more mature than his countryman but he still needs to refine some of his abilities and coach Bouchard and his staff will be there to help him out. There is a lot to like about Ylönen and there is a much-untapped potential we have yet to see.