After discussing the standout players at Los Angeles King’s development camp on Wednesday, it’s time to discuss some disappointing players.
This comes with the obvious caveat that a poor showing at development camp doesn’t mean much. No one should write these players off or take too much from five days of hockey.
But, sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.
Like discussing the players who stood out, the main focus here is on the individual tools and skills each player showed or didn’t.
Expectations also play a big role. The players I’ll discuss weren’t the worst players on the ice, but relative to expectations they disappointed.
It almost feels harsh to include Samuel Helenius here because the development camp environment takes away what makes him an effective player.
He’s big, physical and mean when playing in real games and can’t really show that off during camp. There were several instances where he clearly was holding back the physical side of his game and it hindered him.
But again, looking at individual tools, his lack of puck skills stood out at this camp.
Outside of those intangibles listed above, there isn’t much to his game right now. In Liiga and at the junior level, Helenius showed off some goal scoring prowess and solid hands around the net, but none of that was on display at this camp.
There’s still a path to the NHL for Helenius, but it’s going to take a while for him to get there, and the ceiling seems lower than some had hoped. Even for a guy who was viewed as a more low ceiling type of prospect.
If he has an NHL future, it’s as a fourth line center who can kill penalties and physically impose himself. Before it looked like there was some potential for him to be a solid third-line center who could pop in 10-15 goals, but I don’t see that with is lack of puck skill anymore.
Of course, there’s still a lot of room for growth and as he adds more physical strength, I wouldn’t be shocked to see his shot and his ability to win battles improve. But there’s a lot of growth that’s needed.
It will be an interesting season in Ontario for Helenius who needs to show a bit more in all areas of his game moving forward.
After an underwhelming sophomore season at Northeastern for Jack Hughes, a strong development camp would have gone a long way.
Instead, Hughes put together a fairly disappointing five days.
I just don’t see any standout attribute from Hughes. When he was drafted, most reports highlighted excellent hands and playmaking, but those attributes didn’t show up.
His shot’s never been a strength and he doesn’t play a physical game. He could get away with not having any high-end offensive attributes if he was a high motor player like Alex Iafallo. But he didn’t show that either.
That’s not to say he doesn’t work hard and has no skill, but none of them are clear NHL caliber attributes.
It’s hard to see what role Hughes could play in the NHL right now. He doesn’t have the tools to be an offensive impact nor the intangibles to be a two-way complimentary piece.
Like Helenius, there’s still plenty of room for growth though. He’s transferring to Boston University and a fresh start could be exactly what he needs.
Being a skilled player relies heavily on confidence and I wouldn’t be surprised if the last two seasons at Northeastern stripped him of his confidence.
A strong season on a more skilled BU team could be a game changer. If he goes there, regains his confidence and starts playing the high-skilled game he showed prior to his draft. The Kings could be looking at a much different player this time next year.
And he needs to do that, because right now there doesn’t seem to be a path to the NHL for him.