Born: St. Andrews, Manitoba, Canada
Height/Weight: 6’0”/196 lbs.
Contract: 3 years rem., $3.85M AAV
The only thing going for Darren Helm this season was the fact that he bounced back from an injury plagued 2016-17 season (just 50 games) to appear in 75 games for the Wings. His 13 goals tied his 2015-16 mark for the second-highest total of his career and 18 assists were the most he’s had since the 2014-15 campaign. Perhaps the most disappointing stat for the winger this year was his CF% at even strength (46.7%), again, on a steady decline every year since he finished with 57.4% in 2014-15. Head coach Jeff Blashill relied on the 31-year-old to be a defensive workhorse in the bottom six and on the penalty kill, but the consistency lacks.
What He Did vs. Expectations
What can be said that hasn’t been already when it comes to Helm’s game? He’s not out there to be an offensive dynamo (although I’m sure the team would certainly enjoy some added contribution) and his focus needs to be in the defensive zone. It doesn’t help that Blashill loves his line juggling, bouncing the veteran up and down the lineup like many others this season. That being said, it’s hard to get a read on what the coaching staff expects of the speedy winger? He finished the year in the top six, and while his speed can certainly create some pressure on opposing defenses to free up some scoring chances, he doesn’t have the finish to be that type of player. Helm is a serviceable bottom six forward that can shift from the outside to center when needed and gives the team a depth penalty killer up front. Simply put at this stage of his career, he’s nothing more.
Final Grade: C
There’s no sugar-coating things, Helm was average at best — much like the rest of the Wings roster this year. With three years remaining on his contract at a $3.85M AAV, it’s a lot to pay a bottom six guy that won’t provide much scoring upside. If he’s going to be in the Wings lineup next season then I would expect Blashill to get this right and keep him in the bottom six (barring any significant injuries up front). Yes, speed is the name of the game now in the NHL, but there were too many defensive lapses this season for a guy that’s looked upon to be a steady hand on the back check in Detroit. It makes you wonder how much longer management will keep him around or will he be part of the solution to the rebuild that Ken Holland was referring to and allow some of the younger depth to get a shot from Grand Rapids in 2018-19?
How would you grade Darren Helm’s 2017-18 season?
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