Name: Darren Helm
Born: St. Andrews, Manitoba, CAN
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 196lbs (unless you ask Wikipedia, then he is 5’11”)
GP : 50
In 2015-2016, Darren Helm was playing for a big contract as he tried to establish himself as a speedy and definitely necessary top-6 forward. He failed in doing so, but turns out that didn’t matter because in July he signed a 5-yr $19.25M contract with the Wings and every single living thing in the universe rejoiced for surely this was a Good Decision.
With Andreas Athanasiou on the roster (who is faster than Helm, shoots better than Helm, and probably uses antlers in all of his decorating), Helm has pretty much settled into a bottom line lifestyle.
Whenever he wasn’t struck with dysentery or nose/groin or whatever ailment du jour he was dealing with, he was pretty much guaranteed to be in the lineup - often centering the third line - as a solid presence to anchor whatever mix of forwards he ended up with as the Jeff Blashill Bingo Wheel of Doom continued to spin.
He had a mostly forgettable season, which you can interpret as good and/or bad. Or maybe I’m just bad at remembering. He wasn’t good enough to consistently praise but also not bad enough to get really mad about.
He was just...there. Except when he wasn’t, as he only played 50 games. But the past two years he was generally healthy, except when he wasn’t, so I’m sure this year was just a bump in the road. A bump in the road that already has had a lot of bumps and some potholes and oh looks like the bridge ahead is out, nothing to worry about though.
Excuse me for one second.
DARREN HELM IS SIGNED THROUGH 2021 WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WAS YOUR BRAIN REPLACED WITH A HANDFUL OF CORN? HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT THE GRAND RAPIDS ROSTER? WE COULD BE ON MARS BY NOW IF NOT FOR HIM.
Ok I’m back.
What He Did vs. Expectations
I expected Darren Helm to miss time due to injury this year, just not quite as much as he did. He dislocated his shoulder in November and then injured his knee in March, the knee wasn’t so bad but the shoulder had him out for two months. Both times when he returned to the lineup he seemed to settle right back in and didn’t need much time to shake off the rust.
He was a dependable bottom liner, not doing much on the score sheet but for the first time in his career had more giveaways than takeaways (20 vs. 17). Just because the rest of the team was coughing up pucks left and right doesn’t make it better. While many of our forwards were all over the place with hot and cold streaks, he was fairly consistent.
We needed our forwards, especially the bottom line guys, to play better defense than ever because the defense can’t play defense. Helm has made a name for himself over the years with his stellar penalty killing and general hustle to chase people down, or fly by them going the other way. He didn’t have quite the same impact this year but then again, he doesn’t have to carry the load anymore with guys like Larkin, AA, and Mantha taking over some of the flashier jobs. We needed a 3rd/4th line center who wouldn’t turn into a traffic cone, and Helm was there.
I expected him to be burnt sienna, and that’s what he was. Not flashy, but comfortable.
Final Grade: B-
While he spent too much time with injuries and his contract sucks, he was generally decent in a season full of panic, doom, and mild explosions.
What grade should Darren Helm receive?
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