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