Even though August is usually a slower time around most NHL front offices, life continues to move at a feverish pace for the LA Kings of late. After recently signing their first round selection from the 2021 NHL Draft, they’ve now come right back and inked second round selection Samuel Helenius to a similar Entry Level Contract.
There’s a bit more context to provide this time around, where Brandt Clarke’s deal was fairly straight forward — and explained in detail here.
Given that Helenius was drafted out of Europe, his situation comes with a whole different set of rules and regulations compared to a player plucked out of Canadian junior hockey or bound for an American university.
For starters, the Kings were up against an August 15 deadline to get Helenius signed, or they’d essentially lose a year of possible control.
By getting him under contract before the deadline later this week, LA will now have the ability to determine where Helenius plays during the 2022-23 season. If they missed this window, he would have needed to remain in Europe for at least two more years. Now, he will play for JYP (SM-liiga) for the 2021-22 season and then consult with LA in the summer of 2022 to determine where he goes next. That could be to AHL Ontario in October 2022.
The #LAKings signed 18 y/o F Samuel Helenius (#59 '21) to 3 year ELC:
Yr 1/2: 750K Base, 92.5K Signing Bonus, 82.5K GP Bonus, 80K Minors
Yr 3: 775K/92.5K/57.5K/80K
Cap Hit 851K, AAV 925K
Euro Assignment Clause in Yr 1
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) August 12, 2021
A similar thing happened with defenseman Helge Grans a few months ago. By signing him when they did, the Kings were able to gain control over where he plays this coming season — with the current expectation that he’ll be with AHL Ontario. Yet, if the need arises, they now have the freedom to assign him to junior hockey or even back overseas.
By comparison, for a player coming out of the OHL (i.e. Arty Kaliyev in 2019), his path is much more linear. Regardless if the Kings had signed Kaliyev at any point along the way, his only two options were OHL or NHL.
Looping back to Helenius, it’s not just about being from Europe; the fact he was selected outside the first round also brings unique stipulations. You may recall, Toby Bjornfot was allowed to come straight to the AHL after being selected in the first round at 2019’s NHL Draft.
Before we confuse everybody with a dizzying web of complex prospect rules, just know this — Helenius has been with Team Finland quite a bit of late, prepping for the 2022 World Junior Championship. And coaches have continued to rave about what he brings on the ice, where the 6-foot-6 forward uses his size and reach to create a significant advantage over the opposition. In fact, many felt Helenius was the best penalty killer at the just concluded Summer Showcase (featuring Finland, Sweden, and Team USA).
Helenius is a monster. It took two guys to move him. His box out looked nonchalant, but still held two guys out of play with that cross check. I really do hope he’s NHL ready in 22-23 if he is able to do that to most forwards(guys are bigger at the NHL level so can’t on everyone)
— gollum (@gollum89035427) August 1, 2021
Finland coach high on LAK pick Samuel Helenius — "Big center and I like him a lot… He's so good, he's coachable and his attitude is good. He's humble and he's tough. [Should become] NHL player because of his attitude, size and his mental makeup."
— The Mayor | John Hoven (@mayorNHL) July 26, 2021
For anybody wondering why the Kings moved up in the second round to take Helenius, LA Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti broke it all down during his recent visit to Kings Of The Podcast:
Mayor’s Manor also posted an article on Helenius immediately after the Kings selected him in the Draft:
Even though Helenius signed his ELC this week, the contract will not count toward the Kings 50 contract limit this coming season. By playing overseas in 2021-22, his contract will slide; meaning the three-year term won’t start until at least 2022-23.
Unfortunately, because most European leagues start up sooner than the NHL, Helenius is not expected to participate in Development Camp with the Kings later this month. More on that event can be found below.
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