Draft is part of whirlwind tour for Hitman Helgesen
Calgary defenceman to savour experience of NHL talent quest
By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
June 21, 2012
Calgary Hitmen blueliner Kenton Helgesen, right, enjoyed a fine season in the WHL this past campaign.
Photograph by: Stuart Gradon , Calgary Herald
It wasn’t the nerves that got to Kenton Helgesen.
Or a bad hotdog somewhere between the Toronto Blue Jays game and sightseeing at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Instead, like many, it was the physical testing in Toronto that had the Calgary Hitmen defenceman running for the garbage can at the NHL scouting combine earlier this month.
“Surprisingly, a lot of guys did,” the 18-year-old admitted the other day, fully recovered and fresh off the golf course. “The Wingate got me. I didn’t puke right away, it was kind of a later thing.
“But in the recovery room, a lot of guys were puking. Some guys actually puked on the bike.”
Formally called the Wingate Cycle Ergometer, the test is supposed to measure the anaerobic power of a person’s lower body.
That, plus the VO2 Max test — another killer, testing a player’s aerobic capacity — a series of psychological interviews and various other forms of gruelling physical testing pretty much summed up Helgesen’s experience at the NHL’s annual event, showcasing the top draft-eligible talent from North America and Europe.
“You kind of go through the process of it, one guy after another,” reported the six-foot-three, 186-pounder, who had interviews with Edmonton, Phoenix, Vancouver, Anaheim, Boston and San Jose. “Right in front of you, there’s scouts, media, just a room full of people.
“By the time you get to the bikes, you’re already pretty tired because of all the physical activity you’ve done.”
Then again, all of it beats his summer job any day of the week.
Aside from working for a family friend’s cabinet company at home in Fairview, Alta., Helgesen has spent the off-season reflecting on his first Western Hockey League season.
In less than 12 months, he cracked Calgary’s roster, hit the NHL’s central scouting list, graduated high school, and hurled his guts into a garbage can among the NHL’s class of 2012.
Ranked No. 64 among North American skaters — after going unnoticed all year — Helgesen was the lone Hitmen representative at the combine and the squad’s highest-ranked player expected to be plucked this weekend in Pittsburgh.
“Even just from making the Hitmen and getting better and better all year,” said Calgary’s sixth-round pick (132) back in 2009’s WHL bantam draft. “I had no idea I’d be in the position I am right now. It’s pretty crazy.
“I just am going to try to experience it and try to have fun with it. . . it’s going to be awesome.”
If he’s drafted, it’ll likely be Saturday which means he plans on getting out of bed before the crack of noon.
“I imagine I won’t be sleeping in late,” said Helgesen, who put up three goals, 11 assists and 63 penalty minutes in 58 games and was a plus seven. “For sure, I’ll be watching it on TV.
“This is probably the draft where I know the most people. I’ve played against many of the guys that will probably go in the first round. It’ll be neat to watch.”
Also listed are Hitmen teammates Jaynen Rissling (No. 135), a physically imposing defenceman, hard-working forward Brady Brassart (No. 181) and goalie Chris Driedger (No. 13 among North American goalies).
Driedger has mixed feelings about the day.
The 18-year-old Winnipegger, whom the Hitmen are clearly grooming to be their No. 1 guy for this coming season, had a year of ups and downs. As a result, his stock slipped throughout the year. So, he’d rather just see how it all plays out — no expectations.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Driedger said. “You just never know. A lot of guys think they’re going to get drafted and don’t and they’re devastated. I don’t want to be like that. I just want to play it safe.”
If his name doesn’t get called, Driedger can draw from Martin Jones’ experience with the Hitmen. Now in the Los Angeles Kings system, Jones went undrafted in 2008 but signed on with the team later in the summer.
“If I don’t get drafted, I know it’s not the end of the road, by any means,” Driedger said. “I’ll obviously be really happy if I do get drafted and, if not, I won’t take it to heart too much and just use it as motivation.”
ICE CHIPS: Local WHL connections at the draft outside of Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba include Prince Albert Raiders centreman Mike Winther of Trochu, Alta., ranked No. 21 by the central scouting, Swift Current Broncos winger Coda Gordon of Cochrane (No. 61) and Lethbridge Hurricanes winger Philip Tot of Calgary (No. 100), among others . . . In total, 49 WHL players are listed on the NHL’s final central scouting rankings among North American prospects who could be drafted this weekend.
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Original source article: Draft is part of whirlwind tour for Hitman Helgesen