With the Detroit Red Wings deep at the center position middle man Darren Helm has spent the offseason preparing to move to the wing along side Pavel Datsyuk.
Mike Babcock alerted Helm of his plans at the end of the 2013-14 season allowing the 27-year-old plenty of time to adjust.
“Babs told me to be prepared for that at the end of last year,” Helm told the Red Wings website. “It’s not a huge shock. I played a bit last year with some success. I don’t have to change my game too much.”
With Helm moving to the wing, it frees up room for the likes of Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan to compete for center ice spots in Detroit.
“I’m not kicking it around. I’m going to start like that,” Babcock told the Wings site of his new-look first line. “The tenacity, the pace, the heaviness on the puck and because I’ve got to have room for other guys, I think he (Helm) can help.”
To Helm, Babcock’s decision is a logical one.
“Look around the locker room and we have six or seven NHL center icemen so someone was going to have to change,” he said. “The guys that are coming up are great centermen. It’ll be fun to have a chance to play the wing with one of the best players in the league. I hope to find success, stay there and help this team win.”
Helm has 44 goals and 103 points over parts of seven seasons in Detroit, but a move up to play with Datsyuk will mean more offence is expected of the former fifth-round pick (132nd overall in 2005).
However, Helm isn’t focused on the numbers.
“That’s not what I’m looking at right now,” he said. “My main focus is playing my game, working hard and earning my spot up there. When the opportunities come, that’s when I’ll have to focus on making the best of it, but right now I’m just getting ready to play that wing position and do the best I can.”
Related: Crowded at C: Wings to open with Helm as Datysuk’s winger