Wings' Darren Helm not stressing about final days before trade deadline
Detroit — Darren Helm has been a Red Wings player for a long time.
Helm began his career here in 2007-08 and was part of that season's Stanley Cup-winning team. He’s been one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL for many years.
But in a matter of days, Helm's career with the Wings could be over.
Helm, 34, is a potential unrestricted free agent and could be an asset general manager Steve Yzerman dangles by Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Helm’s salary cap hit is $3.85 million, so the Wings might have to retain half of that amount, or so.
But given Helm’s experience, playoff pedigree and the fact he’s been quite effective on a line with Luke Glendening and Adam Erne, it wouldn’t be surprising to see contending teams inquire about him.
“I haven’t talked to him (Yzerman) yet,” Helm said Tuesday in a Zoom chat with media. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. A few names have been thrown out, I haven’t heard mine, but I don’t know if anything will happen.”
Helm hasn’t competed in the playoffs since the Wings’ last trip in 2016.
Although remaining in Detroit is the preferred option, the opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs again — Helm admits to watching the playoffs the last couple seasons, which he normally doesn’t do — is appealing.
“The last couple of years I found myself watching playoff hockey and kind of missing it. (To) be part of it would be a lot of fun and a great opportunity as well," Helm said. “(But) it would be great to finish my career in Detroit as well. Everybody knows I love Detroit and love playing here. But if there’s an opportunity somewhere else, I would be fine with that.
"I’m open to anything."
Whatever happens after this season, Helm wants to continue with his playing career. But with the Wings still in the throes of a rebuild, it's debatable whether they see Helm as part of it.
There would likely be an opportunity for Helm, quite a few maybe, out there around the league this summer.
"I do want to play another year or two. Whatever gets me to that opportunity, to play more hockey," Helm said. "We’ll see what happens. There are six days left. I’m not stressing about it.”
Coach Jeff Blashill revealed during Tuesday’s call with the media he has received his COVID-19 vaccination.
“Me, personally, everyone has their own opinions on a lot of different things, but I’m looking forward to as many people in our country and around the world getting vaccinated as quick as possible so we can get back to close to normal as we can,” Blashill said.
NHL coaches and players in American markets are getting access to shots, but not on Canadian-based teams.
“I have empathy to anyone around the world who doesn’t have access to it,” Blashill said. “It’s beyond the NHL. We feel fortunate that we access to it, and certainly there are countries in the world that do and some that don’t have as much, and I feel empathy for any of those.
“Certainly there would be a lot of people that would want it and when you don’t have access, that’s too bad.”
Some NHL players have delayed getting the shots — and especially the second one — because of symptoms associated with the vaccine that could impact their health, and maybe miss some games.
Some players, including Helm, are considering waiting until after their seasons are completed.
“I’m not against it,” said Helm, who had the coronavirus during training camp and missed the start of the season. “I had COVID early on. I didn’t want to put that stress (getting vaccinated) on my body. Once the season is over, I’ll probably look into getting it.”
Blashill understands some players wanting to wait.
“For sure,” Blashill said. “I understand the reservation. The hard part about what we’ve been through is the virus hits different people in different ways. That’s the reality of it.
“Some of the people haven’t been affected when they had the virus and some some people have been very affected, and unfortunately too many people have died.
“Same thing with the vaccine. Some have got it and have been have been affected and some haven’t. There’s a lot to (consider) in these decisions.”
Blashill said goaltender Jonathan Bernier (lower body) and forwards Bobby Ryan (upper body) and Sam Gagner (lower body) all were unavailable Tuesday. That’s five games missed for both forwards and 10 for Bernier.
“All three are out (Tuesday), but are very, very close,” Blashill said. “I’m hopeful for Thursday for all three of them.”
Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who has been out since Jan. 30 with an upper body injury, is skating regularly, and at least there’s a sign of optimism.
“He was out there doing stuff before (the Wings began skating Tuesday) and once we got going into our stuff he was off (the ice),” Blashill said. “The fact he’s been (skating) on a fairly consistent basis, he’s been making progress, so that’s a positive sign.
“From a timeline perspective, I just can’t give you one. Until we get closer to where he’s practicing on a full-time basis, certainly it’s moving in the right direction.”