Montreal Canadiens: Santa Claus Letters - Konsta Helenius

Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes
Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

An intelligent player who projects as a top-line smart two-way center. I see similarities between him, Mason MacTavish and Leo Carlsson. Konsta Helenius looks like an interesting prospect.

I many translatable traits, because he has gained the outside edge of playing in a well-oiled European hockey league. This has allowed him to hone his skills and grow his game while playing against much older professional hockey players as a 17-year-old. The brilliance of Helenius’ game is that he is a player who is good in all facets, he just feels so well-rounded and mature.

Offensively he uses feints and head fakes to throw off backcheckers, and his strong lower body allows him to challenge defenders physically. He is at his best with the puck on his stick, because you can see the way he processes the game unfold. At just 17 already driving the play and creating space for his linemates with his smooth skating and knowledge of how to attack is impressive.

When you consider that Helenius is taking a similar route to many others before him, it’s hard to argue the benefits of playing in the European professional leagues. I hate to say his name as much as any Montreal Canadiens fan, but played in Switzerland and he looks pretty comfortable in the NHL, to put it mildly. Another case of a player finding his game in Europe before being drafted is Elias Pettersson, who tore up the SHL before the Vancouver Canucks drafted him fifth overall in 2017.

I am not comparing him to any of those players, but if Helenius convinces scouts that he is worthy of a top-five selection, he will emerge as another player whose success is because of where he played. He has a plethora of tools, and because he is making these plays against men, once he is more comfortable, and scans the ice, I see the potential for him to develop an elite playmaking game. He isn’t a huge player, but he also isn’t small, he reminds me of Nick Suzuki, and Patrice Bergeron 5’11”-6’ tall and between 190 - 210 lbs, they aren’t huge but they are so strong.

Helenius has a massive opportunity to skyrocket up the draft rankings based on his performance at the World Juniors over in Sweden. The tournament commences on Boxing Day, and with the release of the roster, it appears that the Finnish squad will rely heavily on Helenius. He could very well become an offensive catalyst for his team, and be trusted by his coach.

A 17-year-old rarely has a leadership role available to him, but Helenius is a very mature player. Scouts will have plenty of tape to study, and I think that this player could find himself in the top three selections of the draft. He may not be as elite as Ivan Demidov or shoot like Cole Eiserman, but has some intriguing traits and he has so much more room to grow.

There is no guarantee of where the Canadiens pick, and maybe other teams pass on the Finn, but if Hughes picks between selections five through ten, Helenius should be given some consideration. I feel he would fit well with Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, he processes the play well and he has no issue shooting the puck. I think he has the potential to be an elite playmaker, whose two-way game garners a penalty-killing role.

Something like Sean Monahan but 12 years his junior, could be an excellent addition to the Canadiens. I am increasingly starting to believe that Kent Hughes could do some real damage if he acquired to picks in the top 10 of the 2024 Draft. The Habs need a big offensive spark, and adding Helenius along with one of the other forwards projected for the top of the draft could give the Habs a great push ahead in the rebuild.

The top end of this draft has some very talented forwards, and with new ones emerging every day, there’s a fair chance that a player slides down the board. With two selections in the top 10 of the draft, Hughes could address a scoring need, and add another forward to make the top six competition more fierce. I think that 22-14-20 has the potential to be a great line for the future, and I think Dach and Newhook could use a winger, now adding two very talented prospects in the top end of the draft could elevate the Canadiens' top six.