Detroit — If the Red Wings remain healthy this season — and considering the last couple seasons that’s a big if — there would be a glut of centers on the roster.
Among them: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Joakim Andersson.
So, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is hoping to alleviate the logjam by moving Helm to the wing.
“I’m going to start like that,” Babcock said of Helm, who has the size (5-foot-11, 192 pounds), speed and grit to become an effective winger. “I like the tenacity and pace and heaviness on the puck (Helm has).”
Helm has been one of the NHL’s most effective third-line centers — when he’s healthy. But that’s been a struggle the last two seasons. He was limited to 42 games last season and two in 2012.
But, Helm enters this season injury-free.
“He can help Pavel being able to play down low in the zone,” Babcock said.
The health of Weiss (sports hernia) also is key in the equation.
Howard eager to get started
Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who missed the final two games of the series against the Bruins with the flu, is itching to get into training camp.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt in two or three years,” said Howard, who was 21-19-11 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage last season despite missing a month with a knee injury. “I’m excited to get going.
“There was a lot of wear and tear over the last few seasons and I was able to get healthy over the summer.”
Cleary 'can help,' if ...
Forward Daniel Cleary’s season ended after 52 games because of a knee injury, and his re-signing a one-year deal was one that caused an uproar on social media.
Babcock, however, believes Cleary still can help the Red Wings.
“If he can get back to playing, he can help us,” Babcock said. “But if he can’t get back to playing, he can’t help us.”
Babcock and general manager Ken Holland will meet during camp to discuss an extension for Babcock, who is in the final year of his current deal.
“I’m not wound up over this,” said Babcock, who will not negotiate a contract once the season begins. “I’m not selling my house. I’m living in the same place. Life is good for me.”