A few hours after selecting Jesse Ylonen in the 2018 draft, former Canadian recruiting director Trevor Timmins said: “He has offensive talent and phenomenal speed. “His maximum potential is very high.”
Juraj Slafkovsky I recently summed it up perfectly : Every player follows his own development curve. Some explode among the professionals as soon as they arrive, others need more time until they fulfill the expectations placed on them. There is also another category consisting of skaters who will never reach the promised land for several reasons.
On December 7th, 2023, 1993 days have passed since the moment (June 23rd, 2018) when Ylonen was drafted by the CH.
Many people’s first instinct is obviously to rely on offensive statistics to evaluate a young attacker’s progress. A quick look at the 24-year-old forward’s hockeyDB record shows he has only scored four points in 16 games this year.
But a closer look at the Finn’s game reveals something much more positive. Something that suggests he could well belong to the second category mentioned above.
Photo credit: Martin Chevalier / JdeM
In almost every duel, Ylonen manages to impress, be it by using his speed to attack the opponent’s zone or by making a quick and lively throw, the technique of which he has mastered well. Regardless of what the numbers say, there is undoubtedly an improvement on the offensive side, or at least in the way the young man carries himself offensively.
“He has a good shot, good hands and a lot of confidence in front of a goalkeeper,” said Martin St-Louis about his attacker on Thursday morning.
In addition, the latter was used on the power play for the fourth time in a row on Thursday evening against the Kings. He also had a few appearances there last year.
In the “Martin St-Louis Laboratory”
In 2020, Ylonen said the following during an interview with the author of these lines: “I know that one day I will score my share of goals with the Canadian”.
Three years later, he has 11 in 71 NHL games, including just three in 19 games this season.
But objectively speaking, with an average game time of 10:33 per night, it’s not easy to post big numbers. Especially next to supporting players.
“We know what he can bring us in the opponent’s zone. But he needs to develop the other part of him Game. The better he plays over 200 feet, the more he will be able to exploit his talent, said his coach, explaining (in a way) his outfielder’s lack of effort despite his great offensive presence. That’s what I’m looking for in him. However, it’s not far off (from the level the instructors were hoping for in terms of versatility). He’s making progress.”
This kind of speech is reminiscent of that of “MSL” about Justin Barron. Last year, the defender (always known for his offense) was initially used sparingly. At Sainte-Flanelle we wanted to take the time to make it a more effective tail everywhere.
Today, he has been one of the organization’s most consistent defenders since last January.
Photo credit: Getty Images via AFP
Jesse Ylonen is reassuring: He always plans to be an offensive player for the Habs. But he and Martin St-Louis have clearly set a long-term plan. A plan that forces the young man to rethink his approach to a hockey game.
“I want to make it clear: It is really a goal for me to produce with the CH. But right now I’m more focused on being a complete player. Martin was a great player in this league. It is very good that we can rely on him to guide us. He advises me on a lot of little things that I don’t even think about. It will make a big difference in the long run.”
And what exactly are these “little things”?
“I have the feeling that I still need to improve my pure strength,” says the likeable athlete. I want to get better at my fights for the puck. When you start to excel in these situations, you inevitably have more chances to be successful offensively.
Sooner than later, the Brendan Gallaghers, Tanner Pearsons and Joel Armias of the world will abandon the tricolor ship, leaving chairs (oh, those famous chairs!) vacant. A youngster like Jesse Ylonen could definitely benefit from this and establish himself in the top 9.
Until then, the process will continue. And in the Canadian locker room, we seem convinced that the young man will have a big offensive performance sooner rather than later.
Photo credit: Getty Images via AFP
“100%,” Jayden Struble says bluntly. I didn’t really know him before I got here, but he really has great skills. He can change his approach speed in two moves, pushing his competitors on their heels. At this level he is special. He is also very creative. His talent is undeniable.”
The talent is there. The desire to do more too.
Now let Ylonen continue his work in the “Martin St Louis Laboratory”, a place where several other CH skaters have experienced the joys of an escape in less than two years.
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