Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
Two goals and an assist, along with playing almost 20 minutes a game, was Ylönen’s stat line. There is no doubt that the Finnish triggerman is the European player of the week. Even if the first game was a disaster for Ylönen and his team, where the game took the form of a boxing bout, and was lost 7-2, in the other two games the team from Lahti came out swinging, winning 3-0 away to HIFK and 4-3 at home versus KalPa.
Against HIFK, it was Ylönen who broke the spirit of the team from the capital, joining the rush with Hannes Björninen. He waited for the pass to come and delivered the puck into the net with ease just before the first intermission.
When HIFK pulled the goalkeeper in the end, Ylönen had some long shifts in his own zone. While he never got that chance to break out with speed, he pushed the loose puck smartly to Antti Tyrväinen, who finished the game off by scoring into the empty net.
He’s getting better and better in his own end, but still lacks the experience to read the game from that side of the puck. His hustle and work ethic are good, but he would benefit from working smarter.
In the last game of the week, against Joni Ikonen’s KalPa, Ylönen got a goal that most Montreal fans have been waiting for. He has a fantastic release, and he just needs to take those quality shots rather than shooting from every angle possible. The shot went in and out of the net so fast they needed a video review to make sure the puck was actually in.
The whole shift prior to the goal is a testament to Ylönen's work ethic and skill. He helps dig the puck out from the boards, keeps the puck deep with his technique before letting loose with a laser beam of a shot. (They needed video to know if it was in). #Habs #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/DxTotkP83n— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 6, 2019
There is a lot of talk about Ylönen among the bleu-blanc-rouge faithful, and he fully deserves it. It certainly seems like he will continue to perform offensively, so the key interest will be his defensive assignments this season. It will be his defensive acumen that will decide if he can make the jump into the Canadiens lineup without going through Laval.
Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden
Imagine being a defender and having four points in seven games, and none of them are assists. Imagine no more; it is the reality of Swedish defender Mattias Norlinder, who has been lightning up Sweden’s second division after his injury this summer.
In the first game of the week, he showcased his shot when he skated in and found the net with a rocket. It was a win that Modo needed for the confidence after having had a rocky start of the season.
In the game versus Timrå, where San Jose Sharks prospect Jonathan Dahlen has been turning heads, it was the Montreal Canadiens prospect who started the game best. Norlinder needed just 12 seconds to score the opening goal of the game, a wrist shot to the top corner with no chance for the goalkeeper.
It was away to Västerås IK that Norlinder showcased everything that he can be, even if Modo lost. The defender played arguably his best game of the season, racking up an impressive 25:02 in the 3-1 loss, playing more than anyone else on the team by a wide margin.
His defensive work really stood out. He was secure with the puck and had good defensive reads. While he is still a bit light in some close quarter battles, his skating and balance usually even up things, especially if he has ice to work with. It is the fights along the boards and in front of the net where he needs to have that bigger body.
Still, with the offensive output that the defender has, it might not matter much if he is paired with a complementary player.
Frederik Dichow, Malmö U20, SuperElite, Sweden
The Great Dane came in as a relief goalie in the first game when Malmö was 2-0 down, and he kept the game even during his time on the ice. In the second game of the week, against Frölunda, I had a chance to observe him in person.
He reads the game well, works hard, and forces the other team score difficult goals. He does need some help from his defence, though. Frölunda won the contest 4-1 with the last goal coming in a net that Dichow had left for an extra attacker.
You can listen to the latest Dispatch below, which this week features interviews with Dichow and the Coach of Malmö U20 team, Anton Blomqvist.
Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden
I will let SportLogiq’s Christoper Boucher help me with Olofsson’s developmental report today:
Don't let the non-existent point total for #Habs prospect Jacob Olofsson worry you. He's played some tough minutes (SOOvsSOT). Despite that, he's dominating oz face-offs, is a beast along the wall, and his underlying offensive numbers are through the roof. He will break out soon.— Christopher Boucher (@Chris_LogiQ) September 30, 2019
Arsen Khisamutdinov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) / CSK VVS Samara (VHL), Russia
Another game with the big club in KHL this week, another 10 minutes played. Khisamutdinov is big, strong, and works hard, but it is tough to do something with limited ice time on a team that isn’t doing too well at the moment.
Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
There is a lot of focus on Romanov’s development, usage, and point production in what is to be considered the best team outside NHL.
His development seems to be going well. He looks bigger, he reads the game better, and he looks much sharper in his own end. He has started to do those cross-ice passes that Russians have been famous for since the mid 70s.
His usage in CSKA is limited for a few reasons, but mainly he isn’t getting a lot of special-teams action, partly because he is low on the pecking order with several veterans chosen to play those minutes. On top of that, when Romanov has been asked to play on the power play, he hasn’t really shown his best side. He has dropped pucks and been hemmed in behind his own net looking for passing lanes, which means he will have to wait for the next opportunity.
The prospect’s ice time will go down if there is a lot of special-teams play. He has been under 10 minutes four times this year, but that is not as bad as many fans think. As an example, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has two games of 12:01 and 12:54 this season as a result of getting no time on special teams, which is quite similar to Romanov’s.
The defender hasn’t really had any chances in the offensive zone, but this week he got that chance and grabbed it with both hands, earned three assists in three different ways. The first came off a direct shot on a feed from Nikita Nesterov.
The second assist came on one of those cross-ice passes to split the defence. You might want to check out that play from Kirill Kaprizov, who has stayed in Russia and has become even more clinical with his scoring since joining CSKA.
Romanov walked the blue line and flipped the puck toward the net for his third helper. The hand-eye coordination be Telegin was spot-on to tip it in for CSKA’s fifth goal against Dinamo Riga.
The defence prospect had three assists when the season finished last year. He’s reached that total after a quarter of the 2019-20 season. Romanov is developing just fine, and the points will keep coming in. CSKA would beat some NHL teams, and a young defender with this stat line in the world’s best league would be considered to be faring just fine.
Injured: Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland