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European Prospect Report: Jesse Ylönen ends his regular season in style

He may have been the only one in action, he represented his fellow Canadiens prospects well.

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Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

With everyone else covered in this report resting (due to injuries or a tough opposition), it was Jesse Ylönen’s chance to grab the spotlight for himself. In the second-to-last game in Liiga’s regular season, his Pelicans faced Kärpät, the team favoured to win ‘Kanada-malja’ (the Canada Bowl) that is awarded at the end of the playoffs.

With his team chasing the game deep into the third period, Ylönen got the puck in his own zone and kept it under control to execute a good, and tough, zone exit followed by an easier entry at the opposite blue line before passing the puck to the winger and going toward the net. While Ylönen didn’t get a chance on the rebound, he got a well deserved assist for his work bringing the puck up the ice.

The game finished in a 3-2 loss, but it was a good game by the Montreal prospect. He showed poise and a better understanding of the game in his own zone as well as in the opponent’s end of the ice. He still needs to go harder toward the net, as he still shoots from the outside when he has a clear line toward the goal. He needs to hide his shot better and get closer to the net to beat a good goalkeeper. His game is still improving, and his hockey IQ is developing at a good pace under the tutelage of Coach Nieminen.

In the last game of the regular season, Ylönen got an assist on a pure defensive play; the kind of play that he has gotten better at as the season has progressed. Even with the Ylönen assist, it is the standout action of Severi Lahtinen that will be remembered.

Let’s just look at that deke again:

Ylönen’s two assists this week bring him up to 27 points (13G, 14A) on the season, which is similar to what he had in Mestis last year in a handful fewer games. The winger has been able to adjust to a faster and better game in a higher league and kept his production going, which says a lot about his attitude and progress this year. He has been part of Liiga’s second-ranked offence, and should be looking forward to the quarter-final series against HIFK.

Jesse Ylönen did finish third in Rookie scoring in Liiga, after Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida, from the 2017 draft) and Kaapo Kakko (2019 Draft).

However, it should be noted that while Ylönen had a strong second half of the season, his full-year totals have him tied with Kasperi Kapanen and Joonas Donskoi when it comes to points per game in their draft-plus-one season, falling behind both current Montreal players Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen. While this doesn’t necessarily mean much, as we saw when Ikonen returned to KalPa’s lineup and looked spectacular, it points to the fact that Ylönen needs to mature quite a bit more before he is NHL-ready.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

CSKA took a 2-1 lead in the series over Dynamo Moscow on Sunday. Montreal’s own Tsar has not been part of the series so far. Romanov has played 67 competitive games this season compared to the 61 he participated in last year. Most of the games have been against top-level competition, and it may not only be that Coach Nikitin looks to veteran players this deep in the playoffs, but also that Romanov suffers from fatigue. The jump from MHL to KHL is huge, and added with the travel (both domestic and international), it is logical to assume it will have had an effect on the young Russian’s stamina.

It was encouraging that Romanov was part of the CSKA team in the first round of the playoffs, and he is still the prospect who has taken most of the Montreal faithful and international hockey experts by surprise this season.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

Olofsson is still out injured (a knee injury) and Timrå will practise hard for the relegation series that will come up in a few weeks. Olofsson will hopefully be an integral part of a Timrå team trying to stay up in the SHL.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

While he was limited to just 13 games this year, Joni Ikonen really used that time to showcase the best part of his game. KalPa will look to Ikonen to fill the role of Alexandre Texier, who has had a breakout season with the team — something Montreal’s Finnish playmaker will be looking to replicate come August.