The name Darren Helm may not ring a bell to a majority of hockey fans, but in Detroit it's becoming iconic. In only two full seasons Helm has become the heir apparent to the new generation of the Grind Line along with teammates Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves.
With blazing speed, a top-notch forechecking ability, and incredible work ethic Helm has defined himself as one of the best defensive forwards in the game all while largely staying under the radar.
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Darren Helm joined the Wings at the end of the 2007-08 season, emerging in the playoffs centering the fourth line scoring two goals and two assists en route to the Stanley Cup. Though he showcased his speed and penalty killing ability, Helm would return to the Griffins for the 2008-09 season again returning to the big club for the playoffs. The 2009 Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks is where Helm would solidify his spot on the roster with his one man penalty kill and eventual series clinching goal. He would go on to score a total six playoff goals before ever notching one in the regular season.
The 2009-10 season would be his first full season with the Wings scoring 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points, including 3 shorthanded goals, two of which came in one game against the Colorado Avalanche. Darren Helm was described by coach Mike Babcock as “probably our best player from start to finish.” earning himself a 2-year contract extension.
In the 2010-11 season Helm would improve his scoring totals to 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points all while developing his defensive game even further. Coach Babcock called Helm "an elite player, probably not a fourth-line player" during the Wings playoff run.
The one knock on Helm is his ability to finish. Teammates have encouraged him to be patient with the puck and survey his chances. As the season went on it was evident that Helm was gaining confidence while improving his scoring touch. He has become one of the most consistent, defensively responsible forwards on the team along with Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
The 2011-12 season should see Darren Helm's ice time increase while centering the teams 3rd line. At 24 he is quickly becoming a name that the 29 other teams should take note of. Now that his mentor Draper has retired look for Helm to take a more active role in the leadership department, with an increase in his confidence level and continued development on his ability to finish off his scoring chances, Helm could be on the verge of a major breakout season. Soon we should be hearing Helm's name in the same conversation as the Ryan Kesler's, Mike Richards', and Pavel Datsyuk's
It was awesome to watch Helm mature and really grow last season. His performance last year actually made him my second favorite player (Datsyuk being my top favorite). I can see a lot of great things coming from him and will enjoy watching him develop into the bad ass we Red Wings fans know he is and will continue to be.
I really like Helm a lot and I really think people who consider him a grinder or Draper replacement are selling him short. He may have issues finishing this year, but with the talent on this team and his tremendous speed, I think this kid could go far.
@thebiglachovsky I am one person that thinks he is a draper and grind line type of replacement. It is not to downplay his effectiveness. Helm is an energy and grinder type of player, however I am seeing his craftyness improving to try and pull off some datsyukian moves. He is a great player and even greater threat than a third liner usually has. Having him on the third line is something that when he learns to finish his attempts is something that the wings could use to be a much bigger threat.
Yes helm still have a ton of room for growth, but he is becoming a permanent nightmare for opposing teams. Also if you look at what the grind line did for detroit then what I see is a high energy line with the skill to finish when needed. Draper Maltby and McCarty were all great players that had the ability to be top 6 guys in some form. Helm Abby and cleary/eaves/miller/emmerton/conner and well almost anyone else could make that line flow well. Helm is drapers replacement and has more potential in his game.
Detroit to me has two #1 lines and their 3rd line is more like their 2nd line so the Grinder is different in detroit all beacause of the skill it has on the 3rd line. Being a grinder or energy to me is not a bad thing. especially when you have the likes of helm cleary abby and homer one ther 3rd and 4th lines... ya that is not a good thing for other teams and is great for detroit.
@thebiglachovsky Totally agree. It's an easy comparison to come up with - diminutive size, blazing speed, responsible defensively. But I really think Helm has something more and has the potential to be something pretty special. Not to diminish Draper's career, but Helm is kind of a home run threat (and that part of his game is only growing) that Draper never really was.
I can see that. Draper got an opportunity to play with Fedorov which really vaulted his game that year and enabled him to win the Selke. I think in time Helm will get the same opportunity. I think that paired with the right players Helm could put up solid numbers while still being the same defensive beast he is @AsteVeA @thebiglachovsky
I think "grinder" is much different in Detroit, it's almost an honor here and takes much more skill to be a part of than other teams. I 100% think that helm would be top-six anywhere else. Detroit has sorta morphed into having a top-six with the 4th line being the grinders and the 3rd line is the energy line. @thebiglachovsky
I really hope this guy is around for a really long time, not because he's entertaining as hell to watch, or because this blog carries his name but because I bought his jersey last year...
@D.M.N I'm getting a Helm jersey for Christmas this year. I'm stupidly excited about it. *is a huge dork*