Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
The Finnish winger scored a beautiful game-winning goal against Ilves on Friday night. Ylönen got the puck with speed, and with a backhand that needed no preparation, fired off a bullet into the top corner for his 13th goal of the season (and his 25th point).
Over the week, Ylönen played three games and scored one goal, and he has earned more time on the ice from Coach Nieminen. It is clear that Ylönen has the tools to make it as a professional hockey player, but he still doesn’t produce enough with the tools that he has.
He will be lining up in the playoffs with the Pelicans, and it will be interesting to see if he can conjure up more production there. Otherwise, he is the candidate for a breakout season next year.
Ylönen is the best young scorer on the Pelicans team and is currently tied for third in rookie scoring behind Aleksi Heponiemi with 46 points (16G, 30A), and projected top-three 2019 pick Kaapo Kakko at 35 points (21G, 14A). There is a huge gap between all of these players, and it shows that while Ylönen has had a very good season he is still off the pace for the top-end talent. It should however be noted that Heponiemi might have some inflated numbers playing in the top team in Finland, a team that leads Liiga with 28 points. It is still very impressive from Ylönen who has spent the year on the third line and second power-play unit.
When comparing Ylönen to his team he has better underlying numbers, but he also has a higher PDO, and it seems that coach Nieminen still shelters his protégé a bit.
Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
CSKA’s last game in a four-game sweep of Vityaz was played last Monday and Romanov played 10:32. CSKA and Romanov will rest until Wednesday the 13th when they will face local rivals Dynamo Moscow for a place in the Western Conference Final.
All eyes will be on Coach Nikitin with regard to how he will play his young defender when the games are getting tougher.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
With KalPa’s season more or less over, it came as no surprise that Ikonen’s “day-to-day” status lingered. He already has his sights on next season, and there is nothing positive in playing games which don’t mean much with a potential risk to aggravate an injury.
Ikonen showed in his short return to the ice that he has developed very well even without playing much hockey. I am already looking forward to next season to see what Ikonen can do in an increased role on the team.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden
Olofsson is still out injured, and it seems that Coach Andersson is resting the centre for the most important games of the season: the relegation series.
Last year Olofsson played the series with no pressure. It will not be the case this season when Olofsson’s Timrå has absolutely everything to lose in the best-of-seven series against AIK (from Stockholm) or Oskarshamn, who has their own seven game series for the chance of earning a spot in the promotion series against Timrå.