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European Prospect Report: Jesse Ylönen comes alive with three points in three games

Ylönen shows off some tennis skills, Olofsson outperforms his teammates, and Alexander Romanov tries something new in this week’s report on overseas Canadiens prospects.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

There is still a lot of hype among NHL writers regarding Jesse Ylönen, and it might be because of the Finnish connection in Montreal at the moment, or because he was picked early in the second round. Yet he hadn’t shown anything for a few weeks.

There was a Ketchup Effect for the Finnish forward this week, as he got one goal and two assists in three games, the first two points coming in a game against KalPa.

The following shot really impressed me. It’s such a quick release and Ylönen gets such speed on the puck with next to no space along the boards. His wrist strength must be incredible to be able to pull that off.

In the dying seconds of the game, Ylönen hit a nice volley straight into the net, making sure we all knew that he was right choosing hockey over tennis in his youth.

There was more to come. The speed that was one of Ylönen’s strengths mentioned before the draft ws on full display when he ripped the defence apart with a rush down the ice. It allowed him to set up a nice goal, where his hockey IQ showed as he waited on the third attacker.

There are a few things standing out this week. His shots are still a bit further away than what they were at the start of the season, and his ice time fluctuates a lot. Ylönen recorded 12:39, 9:29, and 15:54 of time in his three games, though I have not heard any reasons for the big differences, and it might be that Ylönen suffers from the same adjustment issues Joni Ikonen did last year.

Ylönen signed a two-year contract with the Pelicans before the season. It might be that the team, which is performing better than expected so far, is looking to build up for a challenge next year, and is using this season as a development year for the prospects on the team.

The team resides in eighth place at the moment, and while there are still many games to play this season, they are most definitely challenging for a playoff spot.

It’s worse for Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s Ässät, which is dead last. While no team is getting relegated, Ässät fired their GM last week.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

When it’s time to score goals, you better bring your A game. At least that’s what Jacob Olofsson must have thought when he opened his goal account this week.

While consistency has been brought up as a weakness for Olofsson, he has been nothing but steady in his last few contests. He has a strong possession game compared to his team’s mark, and looks more and more secure in his role. While he still makes mistakes defensively, he is a threat going forward.

After a good power play, Olofsson got his first goal of the season with some precision work, forcing the goalkeeper into a lateral move. While Timrå opened the scoring, they eventually fell to Örebro or by a 5-1 count, but Olofsson still managed to hold his own, not being on the ice for any goals in the back.

Timrå actually played very well, and controlled much of the game, against HV71. As the nucleus of his line, Olofsson put pressure on the defenders and mainly kept the play in the opposing zone. His second goal of the season came on a breakaway after a successful steal in the neutral zone, and he was clinical on the shot.

The centreman is fifth on his team in points and shares third place for goals. Most importantly, he performs well even with heavy minutes on a team that is not controlling the play.

All data from

When comparing Olofsson to Timrå as a team, he is ahead on all metrics. He is fifth in Corsi (shot-attempts-for percentage), third in Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts), and yet is sixth from the bottom in PDO (on-ice shooting percentage plus save percentage).

This points to Olofsson’s strength as an offensive player, and also shows that he is more consistent than expected in regard to his weaknesses. The PDO numbers mean that we really should expect Olofsson to be in on more goals for and/or fewer goals against, but his overall plus-minus sits at zero, so it is not too bad with those PDO numbers.

Timrå has surprised quite a few experts in Sweden — me included — and is currently sitting in a playoff spot. With the relegation system in place, it is important to keep above that last line to avoid the relegation series.

Overall, the numbers and the position of Timrå in the table are an indication that Olofsson is progressing quite nicely, and he most certainly will be a prospect to keep in mind going forward, even if the hype usually is focused on the next player in this article.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

There was only one game for The Tsar this week as CSKA took on Slovan Bratislava in Vienna to promote the KHL in their World Games series; a game that CSKA won by a 9-0 score. Romanov played 11:56 and was one of only a few players to not record at least a point. However he did take a defensive-zone faceoff, which he lost. So he will fit right in with the Montreal Canadiens when he comes over.

Romanov has played 21 games in the KHL and is averaging almost 10 minutes of ice time. He is one of the prospects who has proven me wrong this season.

CSKA leads the KHL’s Western Conference ahead of the Baltic Sea teams of SKA from Saint Petersburg, and Jokerit from Helsinki.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

Injured in the off-season, he is expected to return at the end of December or early January.