Breaking Down and Interviewing 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Samuel Helenius

Eetu Siltanen

2021-06-02

Courtesy of NHL.com

 

Team JYP Jyväskylä (Liiga)
Birth 2002-11-26, Järvenpää, FIN
Position C
Shoots L
Height 199 cm / 6’6’’
Weight 94 kg / 207 lbs

 

Brief scouting report

Samuel Helenius is a defensive-minded two-way center with an occasional offensive contribution. He is very responsible defensively and brings physical impact to the game with his big frame. For his size, Helenius skates relatively well and has a solid wrist shot with quick release. While he doesn’t possess the best high-end offensive skills, he shouldn’t be underestimated in the offensive zone either. He is also an exceptional penalty killer.

 

Offensive game and features

Helenius isn’t the most offensively skilled player but shouldn’t be underestimated when speaking of finishing. He showed a few really nice offensive plays in the World Juniors and had a really solid 14 points in Liiga this season. He doesn’t really have high-end skill or creativity, and his upside is not top-six forward, but he can make “normal” plays work in the offensive zone. He also possesses solid scoring talent as he usually is able to finish off plays if his linemates set him up. His shot is not the best in the class but it’s definitely not bad, and he flashed it a few times this season. He can also release it quickly, which is a good asset.

 

Helenius skates relatively well for his size as he has a really solid technique. His stride is pretty good but could be a bit longer. He also has pretty good stride frequency for a big player but could contribute more power to the strides. However, for a 6’6” & 207 lbs at 18-years-old, he’s a really good skater and I’m sure that’s definitely a thing that will improve to the NHL level.

 

 

Helenius’ hockey sense and play reading seem to be pretty good. He isn’t really a playmaker but has a solid vision for passing as he showed that many times this season. He can also intercept passes as he anticipates play pretty well and has that huge reach.

 

One of Helenius’ weapons will be his physicality. I saw some plays where he absolutely crushed much more experienced players in Liiga and he was able to utilize his strength many times. He’s a player who can wear down opponents with his bone-crushing hits and he’s definitely ready to drop the gloves for a teammate. This is a thing that NHL teams will love.

 

Defensive game

Helenius is defensively unusually responsible for a draft-eligible prospect. His defensive game starts all the way from the offensive zone, where he is able to give hard pressure and hits to the opposition’s defenders with his good size and solid skating speed. In the neutral zone, he’s able to direct the opposition’s puck carrier with his positioning and while doing that, he blocks passing lanes effectively with his long reach. I also saw some nice pass interceptions from him in the neutral zone trap situations, which allowed his team to turn the game over for counter-attacks.

 

In the defensive zone, Helenius positions himself in the right places, keeps his head up, reads the play, and reacts into the corners when necessary. He plays the slot very well, not giving oppositions any time and space there and covering a lot of ground. With his strong big body, he’s able to win a lot of puck battles, both in the corners and in front of the net. He’s also good at 1-on-1 -defending as he’s really strong and hard to push off. If an attacking player is covering the puck with his body, Helenius is good at utilizing his huge reach and poke checking the puck away.

 

Special teams

Helenius is a terrific penalty killer. His positioning is constantly good, blocking shooting lanes effectively. He utilizes his active, long stick and utilized his full reach very well as he is able to block passing lanes and create pass interceptions. I really like how he plays aggressively and gives good pressure, however without driving himself out. He forechecks and doesn’t give the opponent a break, even in the offensive and neutral zone, which makes the opposition’s transitions through the neutral zone more difficult. Helenius is great at reading the play and recognizing the situation he’s in. When he sees himself having a chance to attack, he does and was actually a scoring threat there this season. But he also can settle down the situation and just dump the puck when it’s the best decision. He still needs to improve his face-off -skills but when he does, he will be a priceless penalty killer for his team.

 

Helenius won’t be a play driver or a PP runner but if his face-offs improve, he could definitely play net-front in some PP units. With his big frame and good strength, he would be extremely hard to push off from screening the goalie and he could score rebounds or re-directions.

 

Potential

In my books, Helenius’ projection is a third-line shutdown center, who could be able to contribute some occasional offensive game and goals for his team. If everything goes 100% well, he could be a defensive 2nd line center for some team. As his penalty-killing skills are absolutely great, he has a chance to become one of the top penalty killers in the NHL. I don’t see a lot of PP upside, but if he improves his faceoffs, he could be a go-to faceoff guy and net-front player in some PP units. Helenius could also be a “guardian” with his size and will probably be ready to drop the gloves if necessary. His draft value rises a bit because he has one of the highest “NHL certainties” of the whole class.

 

 

Interview

 

How are you doing and how did your season go?

I’m doing fine! It’s been nice to get back to training now. Personally, the season went well. I was positively surprised with getting a vacant Liiga role and it helped me to develop myself. World Juniors was an amazing experience, and it also went well individually. Comprehensively, the season went very positively.

 

Do you ever follow any public draft rankings?

I haven’t especially followed or searched for them, but I’ve seen a couple.

 

What would you say are your strengths as a hockey player?

I like to play physical and as a big player it’s obviously my strength. I also see myself as a good play reader. My reach is also definitely a big strength, and it helps a lot in penalty kill.

 

What about things you need to develop the most?

There’s a lot to improve in terms of my skating, comprehensively. I also need a lot more explosive strength. Also, one thing I need to improve a lot in defensive zone is the use of my stick as sometimes it’s all over the place when it should be in good position to support my defensive game.

 

Do you have any specific role model in hockey?

I like physical players who can also contribute offense and points. If I had to say one, I like Brady Tkachuk a lot.

 

What does NHL mean to you and how does it feel that you could be playing there some day?

I’m sure it’s every little hockey boy’s dream. It would simply be dream come true for me.

 

What are your thoughts about AHL, would you be ready to spend a couple of years in there to get into the NHL?

I would, absolutely. I feel like the AHL specifically is the way to the NHL. First, you have to get there and then fight your way up into the bright lights of the NHL.

 

Where do you see yourself in about 5 to 7 years?

In terms of hockey, NHL is my only goal

 

Thank you to Samuel for the interview and all the best to the future.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @siltaneneetu

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