Names To Know: Forward Konsta Helenius Possesses The Smarts And Intuition To Be A Potential Top-1O Pick In The NHL Draft

By Will Chase on May 29, 2024 at 10:15 am
2024 NHL Draft prospect, Konsta Helenius, played for Jukurit and Team Finland in the World Juniors.

Welcome to the 10th installment of our "Names To Know," 2024 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Today, we're looking at Konsta Helenius from Finland, an 18-year-old forward, standing 5-foot-11, 181 lbs.

In 2023-24, Helenius played for Jukurit of Liiga, scoring 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games. In six playoff games, he had six points (two goals, four assists).

Helenius added two points (one goal, one assist) for Finland in the World Juniors. He's slated to play for Liiga's Tappara in 2024-25.

The Athletic's Corey Pronman talked about Helenius in his May prospect rankings:

Helenius was very good at the Liiga level and was a top player for Finland's U20 team. He had a strong playoffs for Jukurit leading to an invite to Finland's national team. He is a highly skilled playmaker who can make a lot of difficult passes consistently. He shows the vision to run a pro powerplay effectively. He skates well and creates a lot of offense with pace for himself and others. Helenius isn't a big center, but he gives strong efforts off the puck, doesn't shy from going to the net and has an edge to his game. Inside the NHL the debate is whether he's a good or a special 5-11 forward. I've seen enough flashes to think the latter, but his so-so U18 worlds and World Juniors gives some pause. I think he can be a top line center or a #2 on a top team. 

The Athletic's Scott Wheeler talked about Helenius in his May rankings:

Helenius put together one of the most productive under-18 seasons in Liiga history this year, entering into similar territory as names like Patrik Laine, Kaapo Kakko and Mikael Granlund without quite chasing down record holder Aleksander Barkov. He wasn’t just one of the better young players in Liiga, or one of the better players on Jukurit, either. He became one of the top players in the league, period — cemented by an excellent Liiga playoffs. He did while sticking at his natural center position despite being a 5-foot-11 17-year-old who won’t turn 18 until next week. At year’s end, he was also excellent in his debuts with the Finnish men’s team, earning a spot on their senior world championships roster. He was also Finland’s top player at U18s, though he didn’t completely take over in the way many expected and hoped he would. All this, after impressing at world under-17s (where he capped off an 11-in-seven tournament with a four-point performance in the bronze medal game) and last year’s U18 worlds (where I thought he really drove the bus on an otherwise disappointing team). All this, after playing 33 Liiga games as a 16-year-old last season (as the league’s youngest player and still registering 11 points). All this, after impressing at the World Junior Summer Showcase last summer months after his 17th birthday and still as the youngest player invited. All this, after centering a top-six line as an underager at the world juniors (where he wasn’t a star but I thought played better than his two points in seven games indicated).

There were some who wondered for a time if he’d be a center or winger at the NHL level, but he’s solid in the faceoff circle, his defensive play is where it needs to be and then some (it’s a real strength of his game), and he’s got an impressive understanding of how to forecheck, track, and engage for pucks with his body and stick

Helenius is a joy to watch navigate, manipulate and pass the puck with his smarts and intuition. He's got an ability to find his teammates in space and then get pucks to them with the perfect weight and timing, even while he’s well covered. He also stirs the drink through his effort level, regularly coming up with pucks when you don’t expect him to while quietly and efficiently impacting play at both ends of the rink and coming up with a ton of steals and lifts. He’s both a driver and a playmaker. He does such a good job identifying lanes and taking what the defense gives him. He’ll look for his own look when it’s there or play in a quick give-and-go when spacing tightens up. He seems to create constantly. He’s a good though not great skater (which has led to some ranking him outside their top 10s). He anticipates the play at a very high level off the puck (the puck just seems to find him again and again inside the offensive zone). He shields pucks extremely well and can play keep away to wait for his options to open up. He’s got a sixth sense for timing and spacing. He’s always in good support positions and always seems to make the right decisions with the puck. He’s got vision and finesse and a real east-west game. He’s a problem-solver.

He looks like a top-10 pick to me. He has looked pretty clearly like one of the draft’s most intelligent forwards in my viewings. I like the determination he plays with, too. He has already proven to be a pro play driver as well. I think he’s got real top-six prospects as a centre, which is hard to come by.

Mock Draft Results
ESPN 13th
My NHL Draft 11th
Tankathon 11th 10th, 11th
The Athletic 15th
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