Darren Helm had a sneaky good season, in fact, one of the best in his NHL career. The nine-year veteran served as a useful utility player in Detroit’s bottom-6, as well as on the penalty kill. It was easy to miss out on his silent contributions because he is often linked to his contract. Like many in Detroit, he is slightly over-paid, but that shouldn’t take away from his performance this past season.
Helm’s PET chart does a great job at showing Helm’s versatility. Maybe not in the sense that you want to move him up a line, but you can trust him on the ice at any given moment. He was fantastic in the defensive zone, limiting shots-for and goals-against will satisfy any coach. He was apart of the shut-down line, and while they may have been subject to over-usage, they were above-average in all regards.
His speed is also a threat, allowing him to be a solid entry player. He lacks the overall skill to play a cycle a game and generate offense, but Jeff Blashill’s chip-and-chase game suited him well. He is known for being a hard fore-checker and that allowed him teammates some good looks. However, as mentioned earlier he was on a shut-down line, so his offensive numbers weren’t huge, but at the same time were on-par with expectations.
This too me was Helm’s best season of his career stats wise. His thirty-one points are the third highest totals of his career, and second highest in terms of point-per-game. The only competitor would be his 2014-15 season where he recorded 2 more points (both extra points coming in the form of goals). However, he came that close without any power-play time, in which would make this one of his best season at even-strength.
Even without powerplay time he made still made an impact on special teams. He served as a penalty-killer with Frans Nielsen which was deadly early on. While it fell of a cliff late in the season, they were ultimately able to give us hope for what could be a top-unit next season.
Bad corsi seems to be a theme for the Red Wings, and Helm is no exception. All of his corsi stats rank in the bottom-10 of the team, which is no surprise. He is more of a defensive player, and not the kind of offensive catalyst who will have big numbers. However, it would be nice to see him get more creative in the possession game. He’s a bit of a one-trick-pony in that he is very predicable with the puck. His speed is dangerous, but his stone hands restricts his game.
As we can see from the above chart, his shot locations are very scattered. If he wants to become more of a consistent scorer he is going to have to go to the hard areas for his goals. Helm has never been much of a garbage kind’ve goal scorer, but it could just be what takes his game to the next level.
Something I did not expect was too see Helm rank sixth on the team in GF% retaliative to the team (at least 100 minutes played) but here we are. He is solid defensively which helps, and as I just outlined he has the potential to score more with a slight change in play. Most of his goals came in off the rush, and he was finally able to finish off breakaways (at least in comparison to previous years).
Now on the wrong side of thirty, a decline would be expected. However I don’t see it that way. He is still an elite skater which will help stave off Father Time. Add in the potential to reach their early season penalty-kill form, and Helm has the making for another strong season. I’m not saying this will result in some forty-point season, but his tool-kit leaves the door open for him to make an impact in a variety of ways.
Helm proved to be a useful player. He’s reliable on the ice, and chipped in offensively which is always nice to see. While his contract can be hard to overlook as you sit staring at your Dominic Turgeon poster, his play on the ice went underappreciated.
Danger zone is here to stay, so appreciate him now while you can.