Red Wings forward Darren Helm is one of the remaining holdouts of the Ken Holland era. A veteran presence in the lineup with impressive penalty kill acumen. Helm was never known for his offensive skills, but did his other talents shine through in 2021?
Games Played: 46
Bottom-six winger that excels on the penalty kill
2021 Season in a Nutshell
Helm had a rough year. He struggled mightily on the offensive side of the game throughout the season. Helm’s failure to finish was almost comical at times throughout the season. There were time that clear breakaways would end up with the puck along the boards, as the shot was missed or the goalie made an easy save. Helm scored just three goals in 46 games. As younger and more offensively gifted players were stuck in Grand Rapids, Helm found a way to stick on the main roster.
To be fair, Helm was never deployed to score. The goal was always to stop the opponent from scoring, whether that be on the penalty kill or against opposing top lines. The tactic has worked in the past, especially on the PK. Helm plays a gritty-grinding style that can muck up the opponent’s offensive rhythm. But this year just seemed different. More and more, Helm began loosing those one-on-one battles, even defensively. There weren’t a lot of bright spots for him this year.
They Said It
“He competes extremely hard, he’s very quick on the puck, and he wins puck battles for us, and the game kind of comes down to that. He’s really good at going to the net.”
-Jeff Blashll via the Detroit News
Darren Helm is the quintessential “Blashill guy”: not a risktaker, very solid defensively, wins the small battles and plays his heart out. The problem is, Helm and Blashill’s system share the same major flaw: Offensive ineptitude. Any scoring chances Helm created were immediately whiffed on. That lack of offensive prowess is unsurprising, but what was surprising this season was just how mediocre his penalty killing and “grind line” skills were. There was not in a point in the season where Helm could be considered in the top half of the roster, and more often than not he was near the bottom. Helm is a great guy, a loyal Red Wing and a reminder of a bygone era. But taking off those rose-tinted glasses reveal a sub-par season.
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