Bottom Six Minutes: Jesse Ylönen is making a strong case for more Rocket players

Ylönen has put forth two strong games worth of an audition, and more Rocket players may follow in his footsteps.

The Montreal Canadiens had another sloppy start against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, and while they improved as the game went on, they couldn’t erase their early difficulties. Still, a 2-1 loss is far from their worst result in recent memory, so there were some positives.

For instance, Jesse Ylönen has clearly shown that the Habs might have some gems playing for their farm team in Laval.

I asked for Ylönen to get more minutes after the team’s last outing, and those minutes were delivered against the Islanders. The unfortunate injury to Jake Evans certainly forced the coaching staff’s hand on that front, but notwithstanding the circumstances surrounding the bump in minutes, we saw more of what Ylönen can do. This is important.

He saw his even-strength ice time nearly double, and got to play a little with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki after the Evans injury precipitated a rotation on the wing with Kirby Dach moved back to centre. He fared well, didn’t look out of place, and nearly scored a clutch goal in the process. The top line is likely not a place he’s destined for, but the ability to play there without looking out of place is, in and of itself, a badge of honour.

He can play up and down the lineup, which is quite valuable for a team that is struggling to find the right line combinations. It also gives some hope to the fan base, because it suggests that the Laval Rocket program is effectively preparing its players for NHL action. With Jake Evans likely set to miss some time, there could be more opportunities for players from the farm to get auditions with the Tricolore.

If these two games of Ylönen have showed us anything, it’s that the Habs should embrace any opportunity to bring up, and feature players from the Rocket. It’s working.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. Quick turnaround this time, as we’ll have another episode out shortly after this afternoon’s game against the New York Rangers.

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