Who is Adam Helewka
Adam Helewka is a 6'1'' 190lb winger affectionately referred to as "The Burnaby Boy" as he hails from Burnaby, BC, Canada. He went unselected in the WHL Draft and last year he went unselected in the NHL draft despite being draft eligible. He made a jump straight from minor midget to the WHL (ahh that's why he was undrafted) and, per Hockey's Future, after trying out for the Spokane Chiefs in 2012 as a free agent, "attended the Spokane Chiefs' tryout camp as a free agent and skated in 60 of 72 regular season games for the WHL club." What it leaves out is that this was en route to him being dubbed the Chiefs Rookie of the Year.
It's pretty easy to see why he went undrafted in that 2013 season, but as an undrafted rookie fresh out of minor midget he did just fine. The next season he got bumped up to play with two 21-year-olds: Mike Avani and now-Edmonton-Oiler Mitch Holmberg. He reaped the benefits, netting 23 goals, good for third on the team and amassing 50 total points. However, the entire line collapsed in the first round sweep in the playoffs. They combined for 3 assists and no goals while Helewka himself was held pointless. Despite this, his impressive regular season bumped him up to the 72nd ranked North American Skater.
What Are Others Saying?
Chris Roberts of Hockey's Future did a piece entitled "Off the Radar: Five overlooked prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft" and our boy makes an appearance as the first listing.
It’s not just his offensive skill that should make him attractive to NHL teams in June, however. He has incredible hockey sense, plays a fairly mistake-free game, and has done what was asked of him by bulking up his 6’1" frame last off-season. The highlight of his season came on November 23, when, in front of his parents in Vancouver, he scored four goals and led Spokane to a 6-4 win.
He actually also had an assist in that game and the last two goals game 30 seconds apart. This is the one thing that everyone seems to know about Adam and, in his defense, it is impressive to score four times in a WHL game. However, as we'll see, having spikes in production is apparently something he is used to.
Chief's coach Don Nachbaur, in an interview with Chris Derrick of The Spokesman-Review noted the positives and negatives of his production and potential.
"I think the most skilled guy on our team, it’s pretty clear, it’s Mitch (Holmberg). Mike (Aviani) would be up there, but after that I think Adam has as much skill on our team as any kid. It’s applying the potential and doing it every night that he has to (do). Looking at a 72-game schedule, we saw spurts of it last year, but we didn’t see consistency."
So it shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise that he can occasionally light up the scoreboard. He has a lot of potential but struggles to put it together every night on the ice.
A Little Video
His first goal comes at 0:50. He jumps on a loose puck and puts a really nicely placed wrist shot in the back of the net. At 1:46 we see his wrister again. This one's even prettier. Its a laser from the slot and it rings off the crossbar and in. That's a goal at any level. He isn't booked as a pure goal
At 1:24 we see one more goal. This one comes shorthanded as there is a misplayed puck at the blueline and, despite not being near the play, he gets open for the feed from Marcus Messier, aka Mark's cousin, and then buries a backhand 5-hole.
That's all the tape I could find, but for some verbal descriptions on the goals, check out On the Road with Mike Boyle, from the Spokane Chiefs website. He goes through a rundown of just about ever Cheifs goal scored.
I like the rags to riches story. I also like that he gained weight when instructed and now plays stronger. I like his shot and, from the descriptions on the page I just linked, it seems like he can score from just about anywhere in any situation. So that's nice to hear.
I don't like the lack of consistency. He had a 4-goal game and scored 11 of his 23 goals in a 1-month span from October 25th to November 22nd and then he never had over 3 goals in a month after that. I also feel like he was riding on the coattails of his linemates at times. According to McKeen's Hockey, one of those two linemates assisted two-thirds of his goals. Add in their captain, Reid Gow and your left with only 6 goals that were scored without the help of a point-per-game producer. However, unfathomably, Helewka managed to be even at plus/minus whil Holmberg and Aviani were +35 and +29 respectively. Something is amiss.
Now if Lou sees fit to satisfy the masses and grab two forwards with his first two picks then I don't think we take Helewka with our 3rd. However, if we take someone like the previously-profiled Brendan Lemieux with our first pick and a defender with our second, then we still need a goal-scorer and Helewka wouldn't be an awful choice.
So what do you think? Are you more wowed by his story and encouraged by his perseverance? Do you think that his improvement in only 1 year means he will be ready faster than some may think? Is the fact that he played with studs not as concerning to you? Is this someone you'd want with a 3rd round pick or only if he slides (Note: We'd need to trade up since our next pick is in the 5th round)? Comment away!