This is the eighth and final in a series of in-depth profiles covering each member of the Colorado Avalanche 2019 draft class. The entire series can be found HERE.
With their third pick in the draft the Colorado Avalanche selected right shot defenseman Drew Helleson at 47th Overall in the second round. The 6-foot-3 and 194 lbs blueliner hails from Farmington, Minnesota and was part of the US National Team Development Program, which the Avalanche have now selected from in consecutive years after they drafted Tyler Weiss in 2018. Coincidentally, Helleson was pegged to go exactly at 47th by Bob McKenzie’s survey of scouts and he was also ranked 46th on NHL Central Scouting’s North American skaters list.
As only other defenseman in the 2019 Avalanche draft class aside from Bowen Byram, Helleson leans more to the defensive side and uses his intelligence to make smart and simple plays. Helleson is also an adequate puck mover who many feel can use that ability to grow his offensive game in the NCAA. He will play at Boston College starting in the 2019-20 season with fellow Avalanche 2019 draftee Alex Newhook.
In Avalanche Director of Scouting Alan Hepple’s own words:
“He’s big, a good skater, he leans on people, has some chippiness to his game. Not offensive, but a puck mover, a puck-management guy. He got better as the year went on. He’ll be a guy that complements one of the skill guys. I don’t think he’s going to put up huge numbers, but he’s got some size, he’s got some reach, he plays physical.”
Before joining the NTDP Helleson first started in 2015 attending the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota for elite hockey talents and was once home to Nathan MacKinnon. There through his 15 and 16 year-old seasons Helleson accumulated 71 points in 98 games before making the Under-17 NTDP team.
In the 2017-18 season was Helleson’s first year with the NTDP squad and he put up 40 points including five goals in 61 games. He was able to see some power play action due to injuries and call ups which helped boost his point totals. The following year in 2018-19 Helleson’s production wasn’t as pronounced as he scored 23 points with again five goals in 64 games but did not receive much power play time as he was on an all-star type team including with 2019 first round draftee defenseman Cam York.
At the Under-18 World Junior Championship Helleson chipped in three assists in seven games on the bronze medal winning American squad which capped off an incredible year for the historic NTDP class. One of those assists seen below shows off Helleson’s playmaking skills for an easy goal tap in goal and hints at some of the offense he could bring if given the opportunity.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) April 19, 2019
At Avalanche development camp Helleson showed a lack of strength in some drills but when called upon for defensive work, especially in the 3-on-3 game, that’s where he shined. Helleson uses his intelligence in his stick work and is a responsible defender. The same was true at the World Junior Summer Showcase where Helleson was cut relatively early from the US team as he wasn’t quite ready for the Under-20 level of play but the camp serve as good experience toward another year of World Junior Championship eligibility in 2021.
Helleson should spend several years at Boston College and is a sensible plan for the second round defenseman to get as much development as possible before signing a professional contract. From there Helleson could fit into the Avalanche roster in a variety of areas depending on how much his offense blossoms in college but most likely as a third pair defenseman who can chip in all situations if needed and add to their growing youth core.
To complete, a shift by shift from Rudo3.
Credit USHL for the photo