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Jesse Ylonen: time to shoot the breeze before October
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Marc Bergevin was a king when it came to completing transactions in which the Habs’ goal was to get the best player to move to another club.

Conversely, Kent Hughes – who can’t wait to be a buyer at the deadline – is a real sales wizard at the moment. In another life – had he grown up in Hochelag’ instead of being born in Beaconsfield – he would have been in charge of the most lucrative booth at the Metropolitan Flea Market.

Jake Allen, Sean Monahan, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry (twice), Artturi Lehkonen, Alexander Romanov, Brett Kulak…

If I were a GM in the NHL, I wouldn’t even take Kent Hughes’ calls anymore, because I’d be so afraid of getting one.

Except that this ability to sell his stock well comes with a certain drawback: when he doesn’t get his price, Kent Hughes is extremely patient and won’t budge; he refuses to lose a player for nothing or not get full price in return for one of his contracts.

Yes, the Habs were able to get their hands on a (conditional) third-round pick in return for Jake Allen… but the ménage à trois still caused problems during the season. And Cayden Primeau probably slowed his development by playing so little.

Where am I going with all this?

Kent Hughes doesn’t like losing players for nothing at the waivers. As a result, when a guy who should be playing in the AHL can’t be traded to the Rocket without going through the waivers – and there’s a good chance he’ll be claimed by another team – Hughes keeps him with the big club. Even if he’s rather useless and takes up playing time that couldbe given to someone else.

Jesse Ylonen played 51 games with the Canadiens this season, during which time he collected three goals and four assists. However, he collected six of his seven points before Christmas, when the game was more open and less intense.

Ylonen hasn’t scored a goal since November 16.

Ylonen hasn’t found the back of the net in his last 41 games! That’s a lot of lethargy.

And he hasn’t collected a single point – not even a secondary assist – in his last 19 games. Not great for a player praised for his offensive game…

Even so, Martin St-Louis still prefers him to Michael Pezzetta most of the time… to play on the fourth line.

Ylonen’s case is a fine example of the flaws that come with Kent Hughes’ (great) qualities.

On any other team, a guy like Ylonen wouldn’t play. Or he’d be playing in the AHL.

Ylonen is an offensive player whose first qualities aren’t important enough for that offensive side to work in the best league in the world. So he doesn’t belong in the top six.

On the other hand, his defensive game and robust play are not good enough to help a team on the bottom six. In short, there’s simply no place for Ylonen in the big league. At least, not right now. And getting him to play with AHL guys on the Habs’ fourth line isn’t going to suddenly make it happen.

The question the Habs must ask themselves is, which chair can a guy like Ylonen hope to grab, and from whom, in the next year or two? My answer: none.

Ylonen will be eligible for restricted autonomy – but with the possibility of arbitration – next July. If the fit isn’t there, Montreal management will have to dare to turn the page with him. As with Mattias Norlinder, for that matter

You can’t keep a guy in the NHL just because he’s good at shootouts and you’re afraid of losing him for nothing!

Yes, we have to give our second- or third-round picks a chance… but when the results aren’t there over a long enough period, we shouldn’t be afraid to pull the trigger. Even if, in the end, we get nothing in return for the player we drafted five or six years ago.

If the guy isn’t an NHLer and doesn’t bring anything to your first team, the option of putting him in the waivers or letting him go during the summer needs to be properly evaluated. Especially since the Rocket could really use a Jesse Ylonen in their current playoff race…

Ylonen – who, in my opinion, will never become an Artturi Lehkonen 2.0 – must not be in the Canadiens line-up for the first game of the 2024-25 season next October. Otherwise, it’ll mean at least another year of vegging out. #Gallagher #Anderson #Ylonen

If you’re among those who still believe in Ylonen and see him in a chair of his own in the next year or two, don’t hesitate to try and change my mind on X or Facebook. I’d love nothing more.


Thanks to the Trois-Rivières Lions organization for inviting our team of editors to last Saturday’s game. We were treated to a beautiful afternoon at the Colisée Vidéotron… before going out to sleep. I always have a great time when I go down to Trois-Rivières. #Class

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