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 2019 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. Today we look at American defenceman Drew Helleson.
Coming out of the famous Shattuck St. Mary’s finishing school, defenceman Drew Helleson has spent the last two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Part of one of the strongest US NTDP groups in recent memory, Helleson shared minutes with a number of other talented defenders on the NTDP blueline. He scored five goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 64 games this season. He also added three assists in seven games as the U.S. squad took home a bronze medal at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Helleson also played for Team Leopold at the USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game last fall.
Last season, he put up five goals and 40 points in 61 games. He also added one goal in six tournament games, winning gold at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.
Helleson is committed to playing for Boston College next season.
Drew Helleson Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born March 26th, 2001 — Farmington, Minnesota
Height 6’3″ — Weight 194 lbs [191 cm/88 kg]
Helleson has very good speed in both directions. He reaches that top speed quickly with a good first step and very good acceleration. This helps him to join the rush or pinch in at the blueline while still being able to get back defensively and protect his own end. Helleson is strong for his age. This core strength helps him to be strong on the puck and gives him good balance. He battles well along the boards and in clearing the front of the net. Helleson could stand to work on his agility and edgework though. He can sometimes have issues with forwards who force him to move side to side quickly.
Helleson did not put up big stats this year. He did not get much power play time, due to the quality of other defencemen on the NTDP squad. This lead to somewhat reduced offensive numbers. He has more offensive skill than they seem to suggest though. Helleson is a very good passer. He starts the transition game out of his own zone, making a smart breakout pass to the open man. Helleson also has the ability to make the long breakaway pass if a forward can get behind the opponent’s defence. Helleson handles the puck well. He is poised at the blue line and can pick out a smart pass to a teammate through a small seam.
Helleson could stand to work on his slap shot. The power is merely average and he could do a better job of looking for a shooting lane to get it on the net. Instead, he uses his wrist shot. He makes good use of the wrister when joining the rush as a trailer. He also likes to sneak down to the faceoff circles when his teammates generate long stretches of possession in the offensive zone. Helleson’s wrist shot is very accurate and he has a decent release.
Helleson uses his strong skating ability to play a good defensive game. He forces attackers to the outside and protects the middle of the ice. While he is not a big hitter, he uses his big body effectively to put attackers in bad positions. He is willing to battle opponents on the boards or in front of the net. Helleson uses his stick effectively. He poke checks opponents, stealing the puck and transitioning it quickly up the ice. He also does a very good job of cutting down passing lanes. Helleson reads the play well. This helps him to anticipate where the next pass is going and get in the way.
Projection and Comparison
Helleson may never become a huge scorer, but projects as a steady two-way defender going forward. With his size, skating and hockey IQ, there is the potential to be a top-four rearguard. However, he will need to continue to work on his agility and edgework to take his game to the next level. In terms of playing style, his game is reminiscent of Brent Seabrook. However, it must be noted that this is strictly a style comparison and is not based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Drew Helleson that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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