Should Detroit Red Wings Use Darren Helm as Trade Bait?

Matt HutterAnalyst IMay 28, 2014

Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) controls the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

It’s a funny mentality that some fans adopt when considering which players a team should trade out of town.

Often, those players fans deem as expendable are those viewed as ineffective, overpriced or just plain bad. For example, Detroit Red Wings fans have long been considering Johan Franzen a viable trade target, noting his streaky goal scoring and frequent peripheral play as reasons to bounce him out of Hockeytown in exchange for a more effective player.

The fact that some fans assume that apparent problem-players will somehow fetch equal or greater value when shipped to another team seems to undercut the very reasons such a player should be traded in the first place.

Indeed, if a team is in search of quality players via trade, they will need to offer quality players in return.

The Detroit Red Wings are in need of a right-handed, top-four defender and a scoring winger, and if they want to acquire these pieces via trade, they’ll need to dangle some pretty enticing bait to land them.

In that case, a player like Darren Helm might look as attractive dangling from a hook as he does dangling around defenders.

Despite an epic injury history that spanned the better part of the past two seasons, Helm is still an effective and dangerous player.

His lightning-fast speed, gritty determination and solid two-way instincts make him a potent weapon to deploy at the center position—the kind of weapon no team can have too many of, to be sure.

Additionally, though his aforementioned proneness to injury limited him to just 42 games in 2013-14, Helm still managed to contribute 20 points (12 goals, eight assists), a plus-two rating and 73 hits to the effort.

Provided he can stay healthy, Helm could easily round into a 40-50 point per-season player while still playing valuable defensive and penalty-killing minutes.

What’s more, at an annual cap hit of just $2.125 million, and that just through the 2015-16 season per CapGeek, Helm stands to provide an outstanding return on the Red Wings’ investment.

A Detroit Red Wings roster absent Darren Helm is decidedly weaker—so why suggest him as a viable trade-option?

Well, because Helm’s value to the Red Wings can easily be transferred to any other team, particularly those whom Detroit general manager Ken Holland may seek out as a trading partner.

As Ansar Khan at recently noted, Holland will be looking to have exactly these kinds of discussions this week at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto.

Should Holland seek the coveted right-handed defender or goal-scoring winger currently under contract with another team, he will likely have to consider a player like Helm in any potential trade.

There’s no question that Helm makes the Detroit Red Wings a better team when he’s in the lineup. However, the real question may end up being—can he make the Red Wings even better by playing for another team?


*All statistics courtesy of and unless otherwise noted.