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The Dispatch: Pelicans coach Ville Nieminen breaks down Jesse Ylönen’s progress

The coach is impressed with Ylönen and thinks his player can go far this season.

2013 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Media Availability Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Ville Nieminen is a former NHL player with a Stanley Cup to his name. He knows what it takes to get to the big dance and today he goes by Coach Nieminen. It is under his tutelage that Jesse Ylönen develops, looking to take that step himself one day.

The Lahti Pelicans were a surprising team in the top end of Liiga last season, and they have started this season with two wins with one of them coming against HIFK, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Coach Nieminen thinks the Champions Hockey League helped his team during the opening rounds of Liiga this season as the team learned to play against a more physical defence and bigger opponents.

For Montreal Canadiens fans it is encouraging to hear that Nieminen thinks Ylönen impressed during the international tournament, especially considering he, and his team, played bigger and stronger opponents. The coach likes to use his speedy player in many situations, especially when there is a bit more space on the ice, but when asked about Ylönen’s biggest strength the answer was surprising.

Speaking to ‘The Dispatch’, coach Nieminen expressed his thoughts on how this year in Finland should benefit Ylönen, how the prospect might challenge for a spot on the World Championship team for Finland come spring, and maybe even a role with the Canadiens next season.