The Montreal Canadiens have added two forwards under emergency conditions, recalling Alex Belzile and Jesse Ylonen. The move comes just as the group reforms to prepare for their game on Saturday, the first after a long break.
For both players, this is nothing new.
Belzile, 31, has suited up five times with the Canadiens this season, recording four assists in the process. While he’s still looking for his first NHL goal, there’s little doubt that the undrafted forward can hold his own offensively. Through 31 games for the Laval Rocket this year, he has 14 goals and 26 points, just another strong AHL season for the grizzled minor league veteran.
Ylonen, 23, is a bit of a different story. Selected 35th overall in 2018, he was expected to challenge rather quickly for an NHL roster spot. Injuries have hampered his development, and to this point, he has just 25 appearances with the Canadiens. Ten of those have been this year, but Ylonen has just two assists in those games, and Ylonen received fewer than ten minutes of ice time in his last appearance.
With the Canadiens out of it, the young forward will likely get a chance to show what he can do down the stretch. Whether he takes advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen, and the clock is ticking on his status as a “prospect.” Ylonen will turn 24 before next season begins and is a restricted free agent this summer. The time is now for him to make an impact if he is ever going to.