What Can the Montreal Canadiens Expect from Jesse Ylonen?

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

On March 26th, the Montreal Canadiens announced that they had signed one of their top prospects to a three-year entry-level contract. The 20-year old right winger concluded his final junior year with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 53 games. Now it is up to both the Canadiens and Ylonen himself to ensure he can live up to his potential.

Had current events not unfolded the way they did leading to a suspension of the NHL season, there was a legitimate chance we would have seen Jesse Ylonen in a Montreal Canadiens uniform. However, there is still the question on if Ylonen is ready for an NHL role or if he could use some extra time to develop in the American Hockey League under Joel Bouchard and the Laval Rocket.

Making the NHL Sooner Rather than Later?

There are several aspects of Jesse Ylonen’s game that demonstrate he may be ready for a full-time role in the NHL.

Beginning with his skating, Ylonen is a strong skater and this is particularly noticeable in both his speed and acceleration. Both of these aspects would allow Ylonen to fit in nicely with the Montreal Canadiens who rely on their speed on a nightly basis. This can also make him a likelihood candidate in the top-6 alongside Jonathan Drouin, Nick Suzuki or Max Domi later on in his development.

On offense, Ylonen possesses. His 12 goals with the Pelicans aren’t to be judged accordingly as the European hockey leagues have above-average sized ice leading to lower overall point totals for many players.

In the NHL, if he translates his play well, Ylonen’s goal totals may be able to go higher if he reaches his ceiling.

What Might Hold Him Back?

Going back to Ylonen’s play, there is only so much the Canadiens organization can do to ease him into an NHL role. However, he might be held back from being unable to translate the aspects of his game that made him have an impact for the Pelicans in Liiga.

Something Ylonen will no doubt have to improve, especially in order to appease head coach Claude Julien is the defensive side of his game. However, given his strength on skating and shooting, an effective offensive game may be able to outweigh the negatives on defense, at least until he improves on the other side of the ice.

In terms of external factors, the Montreal Canadiens currently have an abundance of winger’s on their NHL roster which would make it difficult to find a spot for Ylonen and starting him on the fourth line may not be ideal given how he could play top minutes with the Rocket.

A Promising Top-6 Forward…. In Time

The 2018 second round pick has many positives to his game that may eventually lead him to reaching a top-six role in the NHL as long as he’s given time to work on his game. In terms of predictions, it would not be surprising to have him reach at least 10 goals in his rookie year were he to start with the Canadiens when given reasonable ice time and linemates with playmaking abilities.