I recently spoke with former NHL defenseman, Sami Helenius, whose son, Samuel, was recently drafted by the LA Kings.
For those focused on the quantity, the LA Kings had a less-than-stellar showing at last weekend’s NHL Draft. After all, the club drafted just four players, marking just the second time (2016) the silver-and-black had selected so few players since 1968. Luckily, quality is more emphatic in relation to the draft, and the LA Kings met that last weekend.
One of the four players the Kings selected in 2021 was big center Samuel Helenius (2nd round, 59th overall) — and for good reason. At 6-foot-6, 201 pounds, Helenius uses his size to his full advantage, delivering crushing hits and even dropping the gloves every so often, all the while boasting an unfathomable wingspan that forces his opponents to think twice before approaching.
Another advantage of Samuel’s — assuming it’s fair to call it that — is that he is a second-generation player.
Samuel is the son of former NHL defenseman Sami Helenius who, like his son, had size on his side at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. The elder Helenius established himself as a physical defenseman — packed with bone-crushing hits and a fierce punch in fights — during his 18-year playing career. I recently had a chance to speak with the former NHLer about his son being drafted into the NHL, specifically by the Kings.
“My feelings about Kings are great,” Helenius beamed. “They won the [Stanley] Cup twice a few years back and are now rebuilding a winning team. I am honored that Samuel fits their vision about winning players and I really hope that someday Samuel wears a Kings jersey.
“During the draft, he was playing Summer showcase in Plymouth [Michigan] with Finland U20 team, but he messaged his girlfriend [when the Kings drafted him], telling her that he is relieved and really excited.”
Get to know Samuel Helenius.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) July 24, 2021
During his playing career, Sami Helenius played parts of eight seasons in the NHL, compiling 260 penalty minutes in 155 regular-season games while adding two goals and four assists. Most notably Sami’s time in the NHL came in Dallas — where Samuel was born — suiting up for the Stars from 2000 to 2003. Since the Stars and Kings were in the same division at that time, the former blueliner saw a lot of Los Angeles. They may not have been the established team that they would become in later years but Helenius nonetheless had, and still has, a great deal of respect for the franchise.
As for Sami’s relationship with his son, while close, the elder Helenius admits that there isn’t much communication between the two in regards to hockey.
“Me and Samuel barely talk hockey at all,” Helenius noted. “He is an independent individual and wants to do his thing basically without his father’s advice and I let him be that way. Last year he played his first pro year and I am really excited. That’s what loving fathers do, right?”
Samuel spent the 2020-21 season playing for JyP HT Jyvsaskyla of SM-Liiga, Finland’s top-tier league. The younger Helenius made a promising first impression, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists in 54 games. He even began his 2021 on an auspicious note, helping his native Finland to the bronze medal at the World Juniors, scoring two goals and two assists along the way.
Of course, being just 18, there is plenty of time for the big youngster to develop his game before setting his sights on the NHL. Until then, the proud father continues to give his son the same advice he’s echoed since day one.
“Work hard every day and believe your dreams,” Helenius emphasized.
Like many prospects fresh off being drafted, we likely won’t see Samuel Helenius suiting up for his NHL team any time soon. Still, it’s going to be fascinating to see young Samuel further develop his game while honing the skills he already has, like his aforementioned size.
It is a good time for the Helenius family — and for good reason — especially for dad, Sami, who is brimming with his pride that his son is now embarking on the next step in his career.