Montreal Canadiens: What does Jesse Ylonen bring to the Laval Rocket?

VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 5: Jesse Ylonen (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 5: Jesse Ylonen (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

Jesse Ylonen is joining the Laval Rocket for the rest of the year, marking another coveted Montreal Canadiens prospect to play games within the organization.

The Montreal Canadiens walked away winners at the 2018 NHL draft. Their lottery win gave them the opportunity to draft Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall while they made away with the likes of Alexander Romanov, Jesse Ylonen, and Jacob Olofsson in the second round.

Romanov has been turning heads since his name was called by the Habs playing in the KHL as an 18-year-old and making waves at the World Juniors playing for Team Russia. Olofsson has battled injuries but is growing well as a two-way centre playing in the SHL for Timra IK and Skelleftea AIK. Ylonen, on the other hand, has played two seasons in Liiga with the Pelicans and is now moving overseas to play in North America with the Laval Rocket.

The Montreal Canadiens prospect is coming off a 12-goal and 10-assist season with the Pelicans down from the 13 goals and 14 assists he had in his rookie year. An article from the team site broke the news for the Habs fan base stating Ylonen will be joining the Laval Rocket for the rest of the season on a loan agreement.

Ylonen mentioned in the article that the decision was a step in the direction of reaching his goal and making the NHL. Pelicans Sports Director Janne Laukkanen continued with that sentiment saying:

"We didn’t want to be a barrier when the player was offered this chance to get used to the North American style of play and culture already for the spring. Two years ago, Ylönen came to Lahti with clear goals, and this step ahead was exactly what the man wanted. One of our most important tasks is to help players in their careers and we are very pleased that Ylönen succeeded in that."

This is a significant addition for a Laval team who is still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. The top four teams of each division qualify and the Rocket are one point back of the Syracuse Crunch who have 61.

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Jesse Ylonen brings a ridiculous amount of speed and skill to the lineup. One of the most outstanding attributes of his game is his shiftiness. The 20-year-old keeps his head up while carrying the puck and moves it slightly in different directions to confuse the opposition. Not only does that allow him to get past defenders, but it also keeps them guessing if he chooses to make a pass instead of an attempt at net.

His style of play will complement the system Joël Bouchard has implemented down in Laval, and it’ll be interesting to see how Ylonen fairs with fellow countryman Kotkaniemi. The 2018 third-overall pick has offensive awareness and produces well when playing with those who can finish. He’s had a nice streak of assists with the Rocket putting up 11 helpers in 10 games, and it’ll be interesting to see if Bouchard gives them the opportunity to find each other.

The transition isn’t immediate, as Ylonen isn’t expected to head over until after the weekend. However, once he’s here, the Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to see him play close up.

We shouldn’t expect the second-round pick to shine right off the bat. It’s a different level and small ice to get used to. Ylonen will have to use his natural quickness to help with his decisions and movements on the ice as time is going to be reduced heavily. Again, Kotkaniemi can help out here as he had to go through the same adjustments last year.

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Jesse Ylonen coming over is huge for the Montreal Canadiens, who hope a number of their European prospects end up transition. Ylonen may be the first of that group, but hopefully, he isn’t the last, and perhaps he can take the success from that Gold-medal win with Finland and turn it into something special.