Montreal Canadiens: Can Habs Make Room For Jesse Ylonen In Top Nine?

Jan 1, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Jesse Ylonen. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Jesse Ylonen. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

In the past trio of Montreal Canadiens training camps, it feels like we have said that Jesse Ylonen is on the cusp of cracking the roster. But it still hasn’t happened, at least not on a permanent basis.

Ylonen has showcased his two-way acumen, his brilliant shot, great passing and tremendous skating in spades. And with all that said, he finds himself in the thick of another battle for a roster spot.

The Canadiens have a ton of forwards, from veterans to prospects and a newcomer. I’m not a betting man, but I believe that should Ylonen be on the Habs opening night roster, it would likely be on the third line, and his talent would be wasted on the fourth line. So, let’s assume that Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Josh Anderson form the first line, and Kirby Dach, Sean Monahan and Alex Newhook the second line. Or at least those six end up forming the top two lines in some combination.

The third line will feature Christian Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher, but there’s an array of potential players to finish that trio. Mike Hoffman is still on the books for another year, Joel Armia, Rafael Harvey Pinard, Sean Farrell and Ylonen. That list doesn’t include potential prospects showing out at camp and making the team.

Ylonen has high potential, but until a player or two are moved, he will likely draw in and out of the lineup. Another year in Laval wouldn’t hurt anything, but he is close – in my opinion – to being NHL-ready, and he would have to clear waivers, which I don’t see happening. And he would benefit a ton from playing with Gallagher and Dvorak; as he can be the primary sniper, with the two solid two-way players.

Where Ylonen thrives is on the power play, he is a deceptive passer, and because of his great shot, he can freeze the goaltender. His speedy skating is always nice to have if they turn the puck over trying to enter the offensive zone.

He has been a nice piece for the Rocket, but I don’t think the NHL is out of reach for him. And I wonder if he ends up wanting out because he doesn’t get enough NHL minutes. He has the toolkit and has been marinating in the American Hockey League, I believe he is ready for the NHL.

Whether he will get the minutes is the big question, not whether he can handle them or not.

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