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European Prospect Report: Jesse Ylönen stays strong as his team falters

Ylönen soldiers on through the Pelicans’ struggles, Romanov, Olofsson and Norlinder all picked for the Four Nations Tournament, and Dichow stands on his head versus Raymond but gets no result.

NHL: JUN 28 Montreal Canadiens Development Camp Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

With a goal and two assists, Jesse Ylönen earns the top spot in this week’s European Prospect Report, even though Mattias Norlinder put in a late charge. Playing on a bad team but still performing gives Ylönen the edge.

When the Lahti Pelicans’ Champions Hockey League hangover caught up with the team, it did so in remarkable fashion: they’ve experienced three straight losses and six losses in their last seven games in Liiga play.

Ylönen has soldiered on despite having the play against him. He has a Corsi-for percentage 3.5 points higher than the team without him, and is fifth in scoring on the team with 10 points (4G, 6A).

The week started badly for the Pelicans as they went down 3-0 to Jesse Puljujärvi’s Kärpät. The Birds gave it a go and came back to 3-3 before the Weasels pulled away once more. Ylönen was a factor in his team drawing even, contributing two assists.

The second assist came after a board battle. At first, he wasn’t credited with the point, but in the end it was rectified.

It speaks a lot to Ylönen’s character that even against top teams and a few goals down he won’t take a shift off. It is a skill that will earn him huge respect among his teammates, and also the Montreal Canadiens’ management staff.

Ylönen’s fourth goal of the season came in the same way. When everyone was in a mosh pit in front of the net fighting for the puck, he stayed cool and looked for it before bringing it up and scoring in an almost empty net. He plays until the whistle goes, in every shift, and in every game.

Frederik Dichow, Malmö U20, SuperElite, Sweden

The one game that Malmö and Frederik Dichow played was against a Frölunda team that had sent a certain Lucas Raymond down to the U20 team to get some extended playing time.

A local beat writer for Frölunda, Henrik Lehman, was at the Junior game and had some positive things to say about Dichow. The goalie had a great game while facing one of the best teams in the SuperElite at the moment; a team that had Karl Henriksson (New York Rangers) and Elmer Söderblom (Detroit Red Wings) leading the charge before Raymond’s arrival.

Dichow’s numbers may not be impressive, but he is making big saves and keeping himself in the game, which is important for his development. The ability to bounce back in a game like this is critical, and when Malmö pushed for an equalizer, Dichow stood tall and made some important saves.

Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

It is the offensive game that stands out for the young defender in the fist highlight. The defender has some amazing skills and isn’t afraid to use them. In the first game of the week he even joined the rush as a centre and played his role to perfection. However, it is with dangles like this that he stands out among the defensive prospects in the Canadiens organization.

His skill on the defensive side of the puck is first-rate too.

In the third game of the week, his hockey IQ and skills were on full display in the offensive end of the ice once more. He finished the game against Västervik with two assists, one primary and one secondary. Personally, I would have preferred him on the special teams, especially on the power play a bit more, but coach Hellkvist went with five forwards on the five-on-three and since Modo scored it is tough to criticize his decision.

Earlier this week, Norlinder was picked for the Four Nations tournament by U20 National Team coach Tomas Montén, and you can hear what the coach has to say about both Norlinder and Olofsson in this interview with Eyes On The Prize.

Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden

The Swedish centre was also selected for the Four Nations team. He has also gotten a bigger role with Skellefteå, including time on the power play and at six-on-five. Hopefully this will lead to a confidence boost and more offensive success in the long run.

He earned his first assist in the SHL this week as he ran the power play against the reigning champions and current top team, Frölunda. It is the skill that he displays in the build-up to this goal that made Montreal take a chance on him in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Olofsson has been getting better and better thoughout the season, and he should continue that progression. His play against teams such as Kärpät (in CHL action) and Djurgården and Frölunda (SHL) recently bodes well for the future when Skellefteå continues to face the top teams of the league next week. We’ll see how this run of form manifests when he plays against his peers in the Four Nations. If he can bring some of that play with him, he could break out offensively, especially as he seems to be getting a chance to play with Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond.

Arsen Khisamutdinov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) / CSK VVS Samara (VHL), Russia

Khisamutdinov left last week’s game against Dinamo Riga during the first intermission with a minor injury, he has been recovering since.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

What is interesting to see when it comes to Romanov is the fact that his offensive-zone deployment is increasing. Slowly but steadily, the defender is getting an increased role offensively, and with that come some great chances.

Even in the game against Jokerit, which was a rare loss for the Moscow team, Romanov had some quality time in the opposing end of the ice. Against Avangard he had almost one-third of his deployment on the offensive zone.

He has also taken a small step forward when it comes to special teams as he has been granted some time four-on-four, however no time on the three-on-three units.

Romanov was picked for Russia’s Four Nations team that will serve as a good evaluation for the three Canadiens prospects in two weeks’ time. It speaks volumes that Romanov was picked for this event rather than the upcoming Canada/Russia Series, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets a leadership role, not only on this team but also for the World Junior Championship in Czech Republic.

However, I am not sure that coach Montén, who faced Romanov in the 2019 WJC, is as happy about the defenceman’s inclusion. “[Romanov] is the type of player you feel is out there for 25-30 minutes when you are coaching the other team, he is so good.”

Long-term injury: Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland