When thinking of the Colorado Avalanche’s best defense prospects, it’s easy to forget the name Drew Helleson. After all, Bo Byram and Justin Barron – both first-round picks who have played World Junior on Canadian junior teams – are already in the pipeline. Make no mistake though: Helleson is an important part of the Avs future.
Colorado drafted Byram in fourth overall, 2019 and Barron in the first round in 2020. Helleson, some thought, could also be won in the first round in 2019, but he slipped to 47th place in the second round. The Avs were delighted that he was still available for this election.
The defender played for the USA at the U20 World Juniors, where he was supposed to win gold. He finished his sophomore year at Boston College in 2021 after successfully showing for the US in Edmonton for the WJC, where the Americans beat the Canadians for the gold medal.
Helleson is a strong skater and exudes patience with the puck. At the time he was drafted, he has been described by EliteProspects.com as “a skilled defensive defender with an impressive level of competition and a really good hockey feel”. He’s doing well and is a decent puck handler, but he stands out as a solid defender who rarely makes mistakes and can knock out the top players on the opposing team. “
Boy Scouts don’t seem to have changed their minds about him since then.
While playing just 22 games for Boston College last season, he scored four goals and had 11 assists – a very robust average of 0.70 points per game. Of course, his game will only continue to improve, but given the impressive youth the team already has in the back end, the D-man with the right shot will have to wait a little longer before getting a realistic shot with the Avs. The Avs are already favorites for next season’s Stanley Cup at Fox Bet Sportsbook.
Helleson is slated to return to BC for his junior season, but don’t be surprised if he signs a professional deal with the Avs at the end of the Eagles campaign. After that, it would likely become another eagle – a Colorado eagle.
The Avs are full of defensive talent and he may have to wait two or three seasons before he gets a real chance in the line-up. You still have D like Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Sam Girard, all still in their twenties. Then there is Byram, who should be a regular in the top 6 this season. These are good problems to have as an organization, and they are probably best for Helleson’s development, too. Rushing a D-Man too quickly can have dire consequences.
“I want to be a bit more offensive, you know, get a little bit involved in the onslaught and contribute more to it.” he said in 2019. “I think the D-Game is my strength. So if I can get a little bit more of a two-way defender, that will be great for me. II’m in no hurry to get there. When I’m there, I want to make sure I’m ready and prepared. So if this takes three or four years, so be it. If it’s next year, two years – I don’t mind. I just want to make sure I’m ready to be there and when I get there I want to be able to contribute – that’s the goal. “