Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2018 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
Jesse Ylonen was born in Scottsdale, Arizona while his father Juha Ylonen was playing in the NHL for the then-Phoenix Coyotes. Still, the young winger has spent much of his life in Finland and has chosen to play for the Finnish National Team in international competition. Ylonen was dominant at last year’s Under-18 IIHF World Championships, putting up four goals and five assists in just seven games, and helping Finland to a Silver Medal.
Domestically, he put up 14 goals and 13 assists in 48 games for Espoo United this season, playing in the Mestis, Finland’s second division of Men’s hockey. Ylonen’s rights were transferred to Pelicans in the Finnish SM Liiga, and it looks like he will be in the country’s top men’s league next season.
Jesse Ylonen Scouting Report
Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Right
Born October 3rd, 1999 — Scottsdale, Arizona
Height 6’1″ — Weight 167 lbs [183 cm / 76 kg]
Ylonen is a very strong skater. He has excellent speed and acceleration. His smooth stride generates plenty of speed and does so in just a few steps. Ylonen has the ability to take a defender wide and cut to the net. He also uses changes in speed as a weapon, slowing down to create a passing or shooting lane. He also has the agility to make quick cuts and changes of directions, allowing him to weave through traffic and make plays. Ylonen could stand to add lower-body and core strength though. This would help him to be stronger on the puck, and better in battles along the boards.
Ylonen couples his strong skating with good stickhandling skills. He protects the puck well and can make moves while at top speed. He combines his quick cuts, with strong dangles and toe-drags. This makes him dangerous off the rush. While he works to protect the puck down low and does a decent job in the cycle game, he could be even better with added muscle mass. Ylonen can be knocked off the puck a little too easily right now. He has strong passing skills and decent vision. Ylonen has the patience and poise to wait for an opportunity to make a play and then hit a teammate with a tape-to-tape pass.
Ylonen has a good wrist shot and release. It features both power and accuracy. His release is quick and deceptive and can fool goaltenders. His slap shot needs some work though, as it lacks some power. Ylonen is a bit of a perimeter player though, he does not do well in traffic or in front of the net. He needs to get stronger to be able to compete in the key areas of the ice. This may come in the next several years. He pressures defensemen on the forecheck due to his speed, but doesn’t really play a physical game on the boards. It is important to remember that he is an 18-year-old competing in a league with fully grown men.
Ylonen’s defensive game is a work in progress. He needs to work harder to support his defence, and not just look to fly the zone at the first inkling of a loose puck. Ylonen needs to keep his feet moving and avoid puck watching. This sometimes leads to him losing his man. Future coaches will need to work on his defensive fundamentals. Just like the offensive zone, he struggles to play a physical game and has trouble containing forwards against the cycle.
Projection and Comparison
Ylonen has the potential to be a top-six scorer in the NHL, but there are certainly areas of his game that need to be refined. He will likely play another year or two in Europe before coming to North America. Ylonen needs to get stronger, and to work on his defensive game to make it in the league. Ylonen is the classic boom-or-bust style prospect. His game is reminiscent of T.J. Oshie but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Ylonen that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Finland’s top scorers at the U20 Five Nations in Czech Republic:
— Finnish jr hockey (@FINjrhockey) February 18, 2018