In October, this column featured Sioux City Musketeers defender Seth Helgeson. At the time, he was considered a potential first round pick in this spring’s NHL Entry Draft. I recently had the chance to see him play again and was surprised to find that he had, in my opinion, regressed. A big, stay at home type player, Helgeson was never the most mobile guy but was still able to get from Point A to Point B without much trouble. In this latest look, he seems to have developed an awkward skating style (or is hurt) and is quite frequently beaten to the outside. He also seems to have lost his physical edge, which was his hallmark before. He does see time on the PP and PK, but I don’t expect him to put up any kind of big numbers. He has a heavy shot, but takes forever to release it and isn’t very creative as a quarterback. Chalk this one up to an early season mistake, as I doubt he will go any sooner than the 3rd or 4th round.
On a more pleasant note, there were a few other players on the Sioux City team that stood out for better reasons. 2nd year forward Stephane Da Costa (hailing from Paris, France) displayed some sublime puck skills that were reminiscent of Francophone Rob Schremp. He doesn’t possess blazing speed or a willingness to battle hard for the puck, but when he gets it boy o’ boy is it entertaining. Passing seems to be his forte, and he mans the point on the powerplay where he very effectively dishes the puck to his teammates. Passes are virtually all tape to tape and his vision is excellent, as he seems able to anticipate teammates next moves. Da Costa is college bound next fall (Merrimack College) and he should continue to put up excellent numbers. If he is ever matched with a pure shooter, watch for him to really rack up the assists. Keep in mind that he is an ’89 birthday and has been passed over in the draft once already. Don’t be surprised if this late bloomer finds his way onto an NHL roster one day.
Aside from Da Costa, I was impressed with 1990 born brothers Justin and Drew Daniels. Both San Jose draft picks, the Daniels brothers have a had a slow transition into the USHL and this is reflected in their point totals. That being said, both players possess good puck skills, awareness and hockey sense. They have the potential to be sleepers and will continue to develop at Northeastern University. Just a couple more to keep an eye on.