Offseason Evaluations: Patrick Eaves, Darren Helm, & Drew Miller

We continue the season evaluations with our 3rd line 2nd line 1st line 2nd line 3rd line center, the gray haired fighter, and the lovable ex. These three aren't superstars, but their hard work, determination, willingness to do the dirty work, and team spirit (sans the pom poms) endear them to us. Hard work, loveability, and endearment aren't enough on their own however, so how did these three grinders so this season?

Patrick Eaves

#17 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings



May 01, 1984

25 2 3 5 -4 2

Eaves started the season by getting crushed and injured in practice, was mostly a healthy scratch until being sent to Grand Rapids, got called up when the injuries decimated the team, and was then traded to Nashville. He played in only 25 games, tallied a total of 5 points, and was traded mid-season, that's not a glowing report any way you slice it.

Here's what our expectations were from the season preview:

It's a little difficult to know what realistic expectations are, because as much as I hate the thought of losing Eaves, when/if the team is fully healthy, we're still over the roster limit and Eaves could be a casualty. If he remains with the team, and plays in 65-70 games, I think 15-20 point would be a good achievement. Eaves hasn't been called upon for his scoring abilities recently, but in training camp Babcock had Eaves on the powerplay as the net front guy, so IF he's utilized in that capacity, 20 points would be achievable if he's healthy. It's a little difficult to gauge realistic expectations since we're not sure yet how long he'll be out with the current injury, or what's going to happen with the roster.

Well, he didn't play 65-70 games nor the point expectancy of that number of games, he was however a casualty of the roster and eventually injuries necessitating the acquisition of Legwand. Eaves' injury to start the season didn't help him compete for a roster spot, but being expendable enough you can be traded just isn't good enough.



Darren Helm

#43 / Center / Detroit Red Wings



Jan 21, 1987

42 12 8 20 +2 14

Darren Helm went from injured, to 3rd line center, to 2nd line center, to 1st line center and saved our bacon this season. He not only played at a higher competition level than he usually does, but he also put up his best NHL points per game rate this season. He missed 40 games due to injury and still finished 7th in goals in the regular season, and we'd have been sunk at center if not for him. In J.J.'s CSSI wrap-up for centers, Helm ranked behind only Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in adjusted ranking.

Here's what our expectations were from the season preview:

None. I have no expectations for Helm this year. If he plays 10 consecutive games, I'll consider it good progress. Even if Helm's back is healed, and he's able to play in any games this season, he's going to take a significant amount of time to get back into "game shape". He hasn't been able to work out much, has gone months at a time without being able to skate at all, and if he is able to play, I expect him to have lots of "little" things like his sore groin, as a result of his lack of physical conditioning. His timing, processing, and mental game would be pretty rusty as well. It will be a huge step for him to play again, but he'll still have a long journey to being the Helm we all know and love.

After missing more than a season of hockey, we didn't even know if Helm would be able to play at all and the phrase "career ending" was thrown out repeatedly. We'd have been royally screwed (even more) if he hadn't come back with a vengeance. Injuries still caused Helmer to miss almost half the season, which does count against him.

Grade: A-


Drew Miller

#20 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings



Feb 17, 1984

82 7 8 15 -11 21

Drew Miller was one of only two players to play every game this season, led the team in total short handed time on ice, and hit the 15 point mark while only Andersson, Cleary, and Eaves played less even strength TOI per game. He didn't knock our socks off or blow expectations out of the water, and a few more points would have been helpful, but he had a good season all things considered.

Expectations from our season preview:

Even though we're in a roster crunch, by signing Miller to this new contract, the team has indicated that Miller is an important part of the team going forward. I expect Miller to again be a significant part of the penalty kill, and hopefully gets 15-20 points. Maybe he'll also get that "Just For Men" advertisement contract as well.

Miller hit his expectations almost spot on, and he was healthy for the entire season, which is a miracle in itself. And in J.J.'s CSSI wrap-up for wingers, Drew Miller was ranked as the 4th best winger on the team.



Eaves is no longer with the Wings, Miller performed about where we expected, and Helm resurged beyond what we expected. If Helm can stay healthy next year and play and produce like he did this season, that will be a HUGE boost for the Wings. Mike Babcock always says Helmer is the best 3rd line center in the NHL, this year we found our he's a pretty good 2nd and 1st line center as well.