In all sports, great teams often have depth and can follow the next man up philosophy. In the American Hockey League, where players can be called up or sent down at any time, it may be one of the greatest assets you can have.
During training camp, rookie Forward Adam Helewka suffered an ankle injury that held him out of the lineup for over a month and prompted a rehab assignment to the Allen Americans where the 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger played in a pair of games before rejoining the Barracuda to make his season debut at Texas on Nov. 11.
Helewka was a prolific offensive threat during his four years in the Western Hockey League (WHL), registering 238 points (119+119=238) in 244 games, 160 penalty minutes and a plus-56 rating between the Spokane Chiefs and Red Deer Rebels. In 2015-16, the Burnaby, British Columbia, native Ranked 7th In WHL in goals (42), and led Red Deer in goals, points (74) and plus/minus (plus-25) and also led the team in playoff points (9+9=18) in 17 playoff games.
Helewka’s addition to the San Jose lineup in November came at an opportune time after Kevin Labanc was recalled to the San Jose Sharks the week before. After being held off the scoresheet in his first two games of the season, Helewka has not looked back and has emerged as a top-six forward for the Barracuda and a go-to scorer on the power play.
“There are so many things I like about Adam’s game,” said Barracuda Assistant Coach Ryan Mougenel. “He thinks the game on another level and he has a really high hockey IQ.”
Through 19 games played, the former fourth round pick (#106) in the 2015 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks is third on the Barracuda in goals (8), T-second in power goals (4) and is first in shooting percentage (23.5%).
The former Chief and Rebel has seamlessly fit into the lineup and become another active component to San Jose’s success and large reason on why the Barracuda sit at second place in the Pacific Division.
With the Sharks call up of Labanc and also Timo Meier, Helewka has allowed for the Barracuda to continue to roll and stockpile wins, despite still fighting through the nagging lower-body injury.
“I’m trying to just make the most of the big opportunity... and I’m feeling so much healthier,” said Helewka. “I’ve worked through the injury, and the teams playing really good, so it’s just a really fun atmosphere to be a part of.”
"He is a guy that’s going to get chances, and he’s going to the fill the net with those chances,” said Mougenel. ‘He’s a huge part of our offensive equation in the short time we’ve had him.”
The Barracuda will need Helewka’s offensive ability as they continue their seven-game home stand on Friday at 7 p.m. against the first-place Ontario Reign.