Born into the ice hockey world in October 1999 while his dad was playing with the Phoenix Coyotes, Jesse had the option to represent either USA or Finland, and the fast skilled winger choose Finland.
He has also chosen to play in Finland to keep developing, even if he was drafted by the Muskegon Lumberjacks. With the Finnish development system success lately, you cannot blame Ylönen for that choice.
While he is a raw talent, it is easy to spot what makes him an enticing prospect; he is a quick, energetic, and skilled forward who is strong on his edges. The edgework benefits him in his first strides to get good acceleration.
Birthplace: Scottsdale, Arizona
Date of birth: October 3, 1999
Weight: 168 lbs.
Youth team: EPS
Pro team: Pelicans (Liiga)
Because of an early draft-year birthday, he wasn’t part of the Under-18 World Championship team for Finland this year, but he was a menace for the nation in last year‘s tournament, scoring nine points (4G, 5A) in seven games on the road to a silver medal.
The skating is what separates Ylönen from the pack, and from defenders. He is extremely good on his skates, and it is frightening that he will most likely get even faster with increased lower-body strength. The fact that he gets knocked off the puck in Liiga’s second division, Mestis, is more due to his current lack strength than what is very good balance.
Even with his high speed, Ylönen sees the ice well. He has a high hockey IQ, as is noticed by the fact that he looks more like a setup man than a finisher. Last season he was alone in many ways on an inferior team, yet ended up scoring more than expected.
His stickhandling skill is amazing, especially considering the speed he travels with. His individual offensive skill is really top end. He puts up quick and incredible dangles and toe-drags, making him a fan favourite.
There is obvious room for improvement. Being one of the older prospects in the 2018 draft, you would have expected him to be further along in his draft year. Most of this is down to his slight build, even if he has gotten stronger during the season.
It is visible that he lacks the strength along the boards and in front of the net. While he is not afraid to get in there, he gets pushed away by experienced and bigger players quite easily. He also needs to get bigger and stronger in order to stand up and control the puck to have more time with it himself.
His defensive game is weak at the moment as his physique isn’t up to par just yet, but he also needs to avoid puck-watching, as has happened a few times, but this is most likely down to a lack of confidence relating to his strength.
While he knows what to do with the puck thanks to his hockey IQ, his passing accuracy needs to be improved. His shot definitely needs improvement. These are things that could come with more muscle, increasing both power and accuracy.
Future Considerations: #58
Hockey Prospect: #35
ISS Hockey: #55
McKeen’s Hockey: #36
NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): #28
Jesse Ylönen is a high-risk, high-reward player. While he is exciting to watch for a fan, he could easily be the cause of some critical turnovers and cause problems for the team. There is no doubting his offensive upside, and he will be a successful player in hockey somewhere in the world.
I would be more inclined to wait until the third round to pick him, and if he is gone at that point someone else has swung for the fences.
He reminds me a bit about former Montreal prospect Martin Réway. While Ylönen’s size is different, and he has a higher upside with his speed, it is the same sort of outlook: if it works out you have a top-six player, if not then he may never play in the NHL. Therefore, I would not use a second-round pick on Ylönen.