Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
For the first time in his career, Darren Helm could become an unrestricted free agent.
At the age of 29, Helm is coming off a regular season in which he scored 13 goals and 26 points in 77 games. In training camp, he suffered a shoulder injury and a concussion after colliding with prospect Jerome Verrier, so his season didn’t get off to the greatest start.
(He’s also dealt with back issues in the past.)
He then had one goal in five playoff contests, before the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated in the first round.
Overall point production has never been what Helm is about. He hit single-season career highs for goals (15) and points (33) during the 2014-15 campaign.
Instead, he’s known for his speed. He also used on the penalty kill (1:48 per game on the kill) and power play (0:43 per game with the advantage), and can play center and the wing.
But it seems he has questions about how he is best used within the organization’s group of forwards under head coach Jeff Blashill, who took over behind the Detroit bench when Mike Babcock left for Toronto. (Remember, Babcock once referred to Helm as a “top-four forward.”)
“It was definitely a different year for myself,” said Helm, as per the Detroit Free Press. “I’ll need to talk to Blash and (GM Ken Holland) and see where everything is headed, see where I see myself fitting into this organization and where they see me fitting into this organization. Then I’ll have to make some tough decisions.
“I want to win. I don’t really mind playing in the bottom lines as long as there is that respect factor. You’re getting opportunities in different situations. If it looks like that is the case, I’ll get to play in those situations that I feel I can play in, then I’ll be happy. If not, if they tell me right away it’s not going to happen, I might not want to stay.”
As per General Fanager, Helm’s last contract, a four-year deal, had an annual cap hit of $2.125 million.
He’s one of four pending UFAs from the Red Wings roster this season — Brad Richards, Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey being the others. The Red Wings could also go after pending UFA Steven Stamkos, especially after freeing up cap space by unloading Pavel Datsyuk’s contract at the draft.
Speed could be Helm’s most attractive asset, especially after what occurred in the playoffs, if he does go to free agency.
The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to overwhelm opposing teams with their speed during their run to the Stanley Cup, and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan saying he thought his team struggled at times against quicker opponents.
And as per the Detroit Free Press, the Capitals, as well as the St. Louis Blues, would be among the suitors for Helm this summer.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.