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Jesse Ylonen’s impressive debut should warrant more minutes

If that was an audition for more time with the big club, Ylonen aced it.

Nashville Predators v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images

The remainder of this Montreal Canadiens season should be about development, and finding out whether some of their young players fit within what they’re trying to build. One of those players is Jesse Ylonen, who has fared very well with the Laval Rocket, and got his first NHL action of the 2022-23 season last night against the Nashville Predators.

If that was an audition for more time with the Habs, it would be hard to argue that he didn’t earn it.

He was only afforded 6:37 of even-strength ice time on the night, but what he did in those minutes should warrant more in his next outing. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Habs controlled 63.64% of shot attempts, 66.67% of scoring chances, and 75% of high-danger scoring chances while he was on the ice. The latter two statistics favoured Nashville on the whole, so relative to the rest of the team, he was a big plus in that game.

This set up for Kirby Dach was the icing on the cake. Ylonen sells shot after taking the pass from Drouin, freezing Askarov before gifting Dach with an easy tap in. He looked dangerous almost every single shift, and at a time where the team is struggling to generate offensive opportunities at all, it was a breath of fresh air.

Ylonen can’t save the season of course, but finding out whether he is a long term solution in providing some secondary scoring for the club is important, regardless of where they finish in the standings. As it stands, the Habs rely extremely heavily on Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield to create offense. This is fine for a rebuild year, it won’t be on the other side of that rebuild — they need to know who can step up elsewhere in the lineup.

This is a small sample, and while the excuse of fatigue isn’t one that carries much water, it must be acknowledged that it came against a team that played the night prior. Still, with how well he played, getting a bigger sample size to judge from seems logical.

Ylonen has proven about all he can with the Laval Rocket. He should stick with the Habs for a while, and during that time, they should boost his minutes to really find out what he can do.