Let's talk centers, baby. Well, sort of.. One of the three didn't really play center this season, but we thought he would at the beginning of the season. Let's just pretend or something. Sound good? Good!
The lovely Graham did a season preview of the same three centers earlier this year, so if you want to read that, you should.
#43 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Jan 21, 1987
Preview Recap: The biggest part about Helm's preview was "can this guy actually stay healthy?" Having played only 71 games over the prior three season, Darren Helm was a huge question mark as to what he might actually end up being given his health issues. By the time we were previewing players in the offseason, we knew that Helm was going to be seeing time on Datsyuk's wing. Pretty great job to have, playing next to one of the best two-way defenders in the entire league. Pavel has taken players like Justin Abdelkader and turned them into a completely different player.
Season Recap: Darren Helm played in 75 games in the 2014-2015 regular season, and played a career high 1,188 minutes of ice-time. Given his inability to stay healthy over the past few seasons, this already deserves a decent grade. Not only did he play a career-high amount of ice time, Helm put up 33 points, and 15 goals which is also a career best. I guess you could say Pavel Datsyuk played a large role in his production. You could put a banana on the ice with Pavel Datsyuk, and probably get some great results. The fact is that Helm had a fantastic season as a utility player. He was a mainstay for the Red Wings specialty teams, and brought a true edge to their game with his speed. My complaints with Helm are the fact that he just doesn't have the "finish" that he should. While he can show slick moves, he also shows a complete sense of stone-hands at times.
When it comes down to it, Helm is a great asset. His speed is valuable all it's own. With the team in a transition, and a logjam of forwards on the cards, I wouldn't be apposed to having him used as trade-bait. With players like Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Andreas Athanasiou knocking at the door, room will need to be made. He would be one of the first on my list who could possibly be seen as a "high reward" type trade.
Final Grade: A-
#41 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Apr 28, 1989
Preview Recap: Graham said it himself: "The first 10 games will tell a lot about whether Glendening is going to remain in the lineup throughout the season." Oh Graham, you poor misguided soul. I love you, but you were so wrong. Luke Glendening was the lovechild of Mike Babcock, and we all knew it from the beginning. He wasn't going anywhere.
Season Recap: Luke Glendening was one of four Red Wings forwards who played 82 games this year. I've had a strange relationship with this player. I started the season absolutely despising his presence, and towards the closing of the regular season, I just couldn't get enough of him. He has speed, he can play defense, and he is one of the better face off men we have on the team. Do I think it's acceptable that Glendening only saw less than 10 minutes of ice time ONCE in the 2014-2015 season? No, I do not. But when you factor in his stout play on the penalty kill, it makes a lot of sense. Glendening became one of the driving forces for the Red Wings penalty kill this season. He scored 12 (!!!) goals and six assists, which for a fourth line player is pretty damn good considering his goal-scoring was eighth best on the team. Yeah, there was a time where Glenny saw time on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk, and that was pretty insufferable. He's seen as a possession blackhole, but Mike Babcock certainly set him up as that. Luke Glendening was often out-matched, seeing time against top forwards like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and Patrice Bergeron. Is Mike Babcock insane? Probably.
Do I love him? Yeah, I do. I guess you could say I have a soft spot for him, and his story on how he got to where he is. While I hate his usage more often than not, I consider Luke Glendening to be a core piece to Detroit's penalty kill, and bottom six forwards.
Final Grade: B
#15 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 7, 1991
Preview Recap: In our preview of Sheahan, we noted that before last year we have absolutely no idea how he fit into the big picture of things. Now? Well, I have no idea how he doesn't fit into the big picture. Graham had noted how he was shooting at an unsustainable rate, yet provided a solid depth two-way center.
Season Recap: Riley Sheahan was one of Detroit's most dominant shot-supressing forwards in the 2014-2015 season. With that, he increased his offensive production from his short rookie campaign and put up 13 goals and 23 assists in 79 games. Another one of those true utility players who saw time in all situations, he put up 11 points on the power play. Before this season, I definitely saw him as a bottom six center, but after his strong display of two-way abilities with flashes of offensive brilliance, I have no quarrels in seeing Sheahan as a top six center going forward. With the aging core of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, it's not crazy to think that one day Sheahan could be centering one of these players on a normal basis. His shooting percentage regressed to 10.6% in the 2014-2015 season as expected, but he still had a very productive season. After his sophomore year with the Red Wings, Sheahan sits just south of averaging half of a point per game. For a player who has seen bottom six minutes in a two-way role, that is more than acceptable. Not only is he a great player, he's a great person. Sheahan pledged $100 for every point he scored in the regular season to the Michigan Humane Society. He of course rounded up and ended up donating $4000, and adopting an adorable puppy when it was all said and done. He's a true piece to the Red Wings future, on and off the ice.
Final Grade: A