Projecting which restricted free agents will return to the Canadiens in 2024-25

The Montreal Canadiens have quite a few restricted free agents in the system, so who is bound to return next season and even potentially spend time with the big club?
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Jesse Ylonen has had over 100 games to prove himself

Jesse Ylonen received a trial game in the 2020-21 season when he made his NHL debut, and he played 14 contests the following year, recording five points and two goals while averaging 11:34 of ice time. The 2022-23 season saw him gain even more ice time, with an average of 13:27 per game across 37 contests, and he ended up with 16 points and six goals. 

This year, that number increased to 57 games through April 5th, but his overall performance suffered, with just four goals and eight points across a meager 10:17 of average total ice time. He hasn’t grown his game based on these numbers, and while Ylonen is someone who has seen time on the power play and penalty kill units, the units’ respective performances while he’s been on the ice haven’t been encouraging. 

However, his contributions at 5-on-5 could be what gives him at least a bridge deal: He’s currently logging an on-ice save percentage of 94.6, and he’s been on the ice for five more goals scored than goals allowed. His xGA at even strength sits at 21.9, despite the actual goals allowed number being 16 in the same situation. The same thing is the case for his xGF at even strength, which is 17.6 compared to 19 on-ice goals for. 

His basic statistics aren’t encouraging, but Ylonen has shown signs that he can be an effective role player.