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European Prospect Report: Jacob Olofsson getting plenty of practice on his defensive game

It was a quiet week of league play before the Canadiens prospects participate in national team duties.

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

All active prospects will be with their respective national teams next week. Alexander Romanov is in North America for the Canada-Russia Series while Jacob Olofsson and Jesse Ylönen head for the Four Nations tournament in Hodonín in Czech Republic, where the big four European countries play to prepare for the World Junior Hockey Championship. All three have played with men so far this season and it will be very interesting to see how the Montreal prospects measure up against players their own age.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå, SHL, Sweden

After a strong start from Timrå when they rode a bit of a PDO wave and played entertaining hockey, the team has been found out by the opposition, and Timrå is currently sitting second last in the table.

What is impressive for Olofsson though is that he keeps improving his defensive-zone game. While being moved between second- and third-line duty, Olofsson still seems to be adjusting well to the SHL.

If consistency was his major issue going into the season, it looks more and more like he has that under wraps. Even if Timrå continues to struggle, Olofsson should be developing, however I hope he gets a chance to get more offensive looks, even if the team performs better with Olofsson on the ice than without him.

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

In Wednesday’s game, Ylönen showed flashes of skill, as exemplified in the gif below:

Ylönen’s zone entry and control of the puck were incredible with that speed, however he had a small chance to cut toward the goal and get a quick shot off. Ylönen elects to go across the ice, out of the danger area, still with great speed, but when he stops he loses his balance and never starts the cycle to build up pressure for his Pelicans.

Whether this is a confidence or a coaching issue is to be determined. His control and speed is still a great way to gain a zone entry, but to succeed on an NHL rink he would most likely have to turn that entry into a shot for himself.

I am sure that Ylönen will figure this out, or be coached to take these chances himself, during the season.

The Pelicans currently reside in fifth place in Liiga, and Ylönen outperforms his team in both five-on-five Corsi-for percentage (CF%) and that when the score is within a goal (CCF%). The data shows that he is a bit sheltered compared to the team (offensive-zone-start percentage, or attacking/defending zone percentage, AD%).

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

The Tsar was let off CSKA’s roster this week as he prepares for the upcoming Canada-Russia Series. He will face off against a hoard of other Candiens prospects: Nick Suzuki, Josh Brook, Cam Hillis, Scott Walford, and Joël Teasdale.

I will be surprised if Romanov isn’t be one of the leaders on the Russian team, and it will be very interesting to see how quickly he adjusts to the smaller rinks.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

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