It should be noted that the setting for watching Helgeson wasn't exactly ideal. High School hockey in Southern Minnesota is improving, but still not spectacular. Mankato East is a Class A school, and though they made the state tournament last year, I think I only counted like two or three kids that played a regular shift last year on the ice tonight, and there were a couple tiny 9th graders that skated a regular shift for them. So the level of competition and the speed of the game wasn't very high.
In comparing Helgeson to some of the other top 1990 born defenseman that I've seen, the one obvious advantage that he has is his size. He's already 6'4" and looks to be fairly strong. I thought his skating ability was pretty good, especially considering that he is as big as he is. He tried to rush the puck up the ice a couple of times, and was able to get away with it due to the competition, but I wasn't overly impressed with his speed. I think his future is definitely as more of a defensive defenseman.
One of the things that I liked the most was how well he saw the ice. He had a pretty good sense of where everyone on the ice was, and when he got the puck on his stick in his own end, he made solid tape-to-tape passes along the ice to his teammates.
As I said, all five of his goals came off of shots from the point. I wouldn't say he has a booming cannon of a shot, but did a nice job of firing pucks low and hard, and he happened to find the back of the net on a lot of them. I don't know if it was a case of nobody wanting to step in front of his shot, but he had all the time in the world to tee up his shot on a couple of those goals.
Mankato wasn't really able to generate enough offensive to really test him defensively. He had two really bad turnovers on one shift that led to quality scoring chances, but that was at the tail end of about a two-minute shift, so you can probably chalk that up to fatigue. He wasn't overly physical, but never really needed to be. He mostly just stayed at home and protected the front of the net.
Overall I thought Helgeson played a very nice game. Faribault had a slight edge in play, but Helgeson was the big difference maker. I think at worst, he should be a fairly dependable defensive defenseman at the college level, and has the potential to develop into an excellent player. He should definitely attract attention from the NHL due to his size and ability.
Etc. For those who care, but may have missed it, I was able to catch the Centennial vs. Roseville game on Fox Sports North. It ended up not being that great of a game, as Roseville dominated play and won 8-3. Centennial got down 3-0 early, but scored twice late and came out of the first period in pretty good shape. But Roseville scored four times in the second and ended up cruising to the easy win.
It was kind of odd. It seemed like Roseville's Adam Mueller was everywhere in the first half of the game, getting points on Roseville's first four goals, and UMD recruit Mike Dorr was fairly quiet, and then at the halfway point of the game, they switched and Dorr was dominant while Mueller kind of faded into the background.
It's always tough watching on TV, but I was able to kind of get a better idea at why people like Tyler Pitlick so much. He looked very good for just being a sophomore.