When you think about top Colorado Avalanche defensive prospects, it’s easy to forget the name Drew Helleson. After all, Bo Byram and Justin Barron – both first-round picks who played on World Junior Canadian teams – are already in the pipeline. But make no mistake: Helleson is very much a part of the Avs’ future.
Colorado drafted Byram fourth overall, in 2019, and Barron in the first round in 2020. Helleson, some thought, might be taken in the first round as well in 2019, but he slipped to No. 47 in the second round. The Avs were quite pleased he was still available at that pick.
The defenseman played for the U.S. at the Under-20 World Juniors, where he would win gold. He completed his sophomore year at Boston College in 2021, following a successful showing for the U.S. 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 was described by EliteProspects.com as a “capable defensive defenseman with an impressive compete-level and really good hockey sense. Skates well and is a decent puck handler, but stands out as a solid defenseman who rarely makes mistakes and can shut down the top players on the opposing team.”
Scouts don’t seem to have changed their opinion of him much since.
While he played just 22 games for Boston College last season, he scored four goals and had 11 assists – a very robust point-per-game average of .70. Of course, his game will only continue to improve but, given the impressive youth the team already has on the back end, the right-shot D-man will have to wait a bit still before getting a realistic shot with the Avs. The Avs are already favorites for the Stanley Cup next season at Fox Bet sportsbook.
Helleson is slated to go back to BC for his junior season, but don’t be surprised if he signs a pro deal with the Avs at the end of the Eagles’ campaign. After that, he would likely become another Eagle – a Colorado Eagle.
The Avs are loaded with defensive talent and he might have to wait another two or three seasons before getting a real chance in the lineup. You’ve still got D such as Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Sam Girard, all in the their 20s still. Then there’s Byram, who should be a regular in the top six this season. These are good problems to have as an organization, and quite possibly, that’s the best thing for Helleson’s development, too. If you rush a D-man too fast, it can have dire consequences.
“I want to be a little bit more offensive, you know, join the rush a little bit and contributing more in that aspect,” he said back in 2019. “I think the D-game is my strength, so if I can become a little bit more of a two-way defenseman then that will be big for me. I’m in no rush to get there. When I’m there, I want to make sure I’m ready and prepared for it. So if that takes three or four years, then that’s what it is. If it’s next year, two years — it doesn’t bother me. I just want to make sure I’m ready to be there and once I get there, I want to be able to contribute — that’s the goal.”