It appears that communication was a key roadblock between Darren Helm and Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill throughout the 2015-16 season. The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan writes that Helm grew frustrated by a lack of understanding when it came to his role on the team. From Helm:
“Sometimes I just didn’t feel like the message was relayed to me clearly,” Helm said. “I didn’t know if I was moving (lines) because I wasn’t playing well or doing things wrong or matchups.
Helm is convinced after talking with Blashill and general manager Ken Holland that things will improve for him during the upcoming season. Helm believes that he will slot in as a third line center and after signing a five-year, $19.25MM deal in July with the Wings, many fans and analysts wonder if Helm will live up to a $3.85MM AAV deal. The biggest knock on Helm is his inability to finish scoring plays. Though his speed and penalty killing prowess is valuable, Helm failed to convert breakaways and excellent scoring chances into goals. For a return on investment, Detroit certainly must hope that Helm will improve upon that and continue to keep the lines of communication open with Blashill.
In other Red Wings news:
- Top prospect Anthony Mantha believes the time is now to cement his place on the Wings roster. Helene St. James reports that Mantha can “be a force” and is “brimming” with confidence as training camp approaches. Last season, the Red Wings’ 2013 first round pick added some buzz to the power play before being sent back to Grand Rapids to finish the season. For Mantha, he remembers those ten games and uses it as motivation to make the team full time. While the Red Wings roster has a glut of forwards, it’s also been trimmed by injuries to Teemu Pulkkinen, Henrik Zetterberg, and Tomas Jurco. If there’s any time for Mantha to make the roster, this would be a golden opportunity. Zetterberg is expected to return by the start of the season, but Jurco and Pulkkinen are expected to miss some time. For Mantha to stick with the big club, St. James opines that he has to prove himself a top 9 forward instead of jockeying for time on the fourth line. Despite needing youth to step up, Holland will often favor veterans, hence the signing of Steve Ott, to play on a fourth line while the younger players can “over ripen” in the minors.
- Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was shopped around the league all summer, plans to give Petr Mrazek a run for his money as the starter reports Ansar Khan. The 32-year-old netminder lost his starting job to Mrazek two seasons ago, despite a $5.3MM price tag. Now, Howard finds himself on a team as the backup and with a murky future. Howard is expected to be left off the Wings list when it comes time to protect players in the expansion draft next summer. Until then, Howard maintains that he’s happy to still be in Detroit and never wanted to leave. Howard insists that he’ll “push” Mrazek with the intent of making both goaltenders better.