2008-09: Ilari Melart made his SM-Liiga debut as a 19-year-old, skating in 27 games for HIFK, and also played for Kiekko-Vantaa in Mestis and with HIFK"s U20 team. He was also a member of Finland's U20 team in the 2009 World Junior Championship. Playing a physical style the made him a fan favorite, he scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was -5 with 62 penalty minutes as an SM-Liiga rookie. Melart was -4 with 4 penalty minutes in six games for Kiekko-Vantaa. In eight games for HIFK's U20 team he scored 2 goals with 3 assists. HIFK finished 12th and was first in the six-team relegation playoffs to retain its spot in the top division. Melart was the team's fourth-leading scorer in the relegation series with 5 goals and 4 assists in nine games. He had 1 assist and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes in six games for seventh-place Finland at the WJC.
2009-10: Melart played for HIFK and Kiekko-Vantaa in Mestis in his second pro season and skated for HIFK's silver medal-winning U20 team in the playoffs. He scored 1 goal and was +7 with 47 penalty minutes in 13 games; averaging 12:44 minutes of ice time in SM-Liiga play. HIFK finished fourth in the regular season and reached the second round in the playoffs. Melart played in two playoff games with no points nor penalty minutes. In 22 games for Kiekko-Vantaa he scored 3 goals with 5 assists and was +5 with 60 penalty minutes. HIFK's U20 team had the top record in the league before losing to Karpat in the playoff finals. Melart scored 3 goals with 5 assists and had 61 penalty minutes in 11 playoffs games.
2010-11: Melart split his third pro season between Kanada Cup champion HIFK and Kiekko-Vantaa. He played in 11 games with HIFK through December and then returned to the SM-Liiga in February. In 20 games he scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +6 with 94 penalty minutes – averaging 14 minutes of ice time. HIFK finished third in the regular season and then defeated Espoo in the finals. Melart played in 6 of 11 playoff games and had 1 assist; finishing with an even plus/minus and 2 penalty minutes. In ten games in Mestis with Kiekko-Vantaa he scored 2 goals with 5 assists and was +5 with 14 penalty minutes.
2011-12: Melart missed the first part of the year due to a knee injury, making his season debut with HIFK on November 15th. He played in 36 games and was second on the team with 132 penalty minutes. Melart scored 2 goals with 3 assists and was +5. HIFK finished in second place but was swept by Jokerit in the playoff quarterfinals. In two playoff games Melart scored 1 goal and was -2.
2012-13: Melart displayed an offensive side to go with his physical game in his second full SM-Liiga season, playing for HIFK and skating for Finland in the European Trophy and IIHF World Championship tournaments. In 50 regular season games he scored 7 goals with 18 assists – both personal bests – and was +2 with 80 penalty minutes. HIFK slipped to seventh place and lost in the playoff quarterfinals. Melart had no points and was -1 with 29 penalty minutes in seven playoff games. In ten games for Team Finland he was -2 with no points and 14 penalty minutes. Melart signed a one-year entry-level contract with Columbus as a free agent in May, 2013.
At 6’3, Melart takes up space on the ice. He is a stay-at-home defender, who is not afraid to drop the gloves or throw the body. He relies on his long reach to break up rushes and will lay his body down to block a shot. He has improved his offensive ability, but will never be known as a pure, puck-moving defender.
Jarmo Kekalainen used his ties in Finland to sign Melart to a one-year, two-way contract with the Blue Jackets. He will likely start the season in Springfield and could see time in the NHL if injuries plague the Jackets blue line.