Darren Helm took another step back in 2018-19, as the 32-year-old continues to see his production drop off. The speedster signed a five-year, $3.85-million extension in the summer of 2016 that Detroit Red Wings fans generally bemoaned.
It was a lot of money and term for a penalty kill specialist who hadn’t ever broken the 40-point mark and had played a full 82 games just once in his career.
Helm still has two more years left on his deal, and a crop of young forwards are knocking on the door looking to cement their place on the Red Wings roster.
There’s not a whole lot to love here for Helm. He doesn’t score a lot when he’s on the ice, he doesn’t generate high-danger scoring chances and he barely moves the needle in regards to limiting scoring chances. His speed certainly is an asset, but he doesn’t have the scoring touch to go along with it.
He averaged 12:38 per game at 5 on 5, a number that probably should be closer to 10 minutes per game. When the team is healthy, he generally sees third- and fourth-line minutes, but injuries and a lack of depth forced him into the top six near the end of the season, which is not ideal.
Again, not a great look for Helm — 0.28 points per game for a 12-year veteran making nearly $4 million is part of the reason for the Red Wings’ recent woes.
If you’re looking for a bright spot, he did have three more takeaways (33) than giveaways (30). Other than that, there’s not a whole lot to like.
As is the theme with most of the Red Wings this season, Helm struggled in the possession game. Granted, Helm is in the bottom 10 on the team in offensive zone percentage (43.84), meaning he is on the ice for more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive zone faceoffs.
I don’t see much changing for Helm next season. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and continues to see his ice time drop as the new generation of players take on bigger roles. Not to mention the fact he continuously misses games due to injury, playing in just 70 or more games once during the past three seasons.
He can be effective on the penalty kill, not so much from a limiting shots perspective, but namely when using his speed to generate scoring opportunities, but he also generally flubs those scoring chances with his world-famous hands of stone.