As the free agency buzz begins to build, several likely targets for the Caps, and the details surrounding the potential acquisitions are emerging. One of those players that has been fairly prominent in the media is the Red Wings Darren Helm. Helm, 29 is finishing up a four-year deal at a cost of $2.125 million per year. He will likely garner in the neighborhood of $4 million per year in his new deal.
Darren Helm addresses many of the Capitals needs for this offseason. A relatively young, speedy Center with decent offensive numbers has Helm likely near the top of GM Brian MacLellan’s offseason target list. Helm scored 13 goals and 26 points through 77 games for the 2015-2016 season.
Why It Won’t Happen
The Red Wings have stated publicly that they would like to re-sign Helm, and on on Tuesday, extended an offer to Helm. Helm has also stated publicly that he would be interested in staying in Detroit if the terms were right.
As noted, Helm will probably make in the neighborhood of $4 million per year in his new deal, the top end of the Capitals budget for filling the third-line center position. Should another team with deeper salary cap pockets jump in the bidding process for Helm, then it’s unlikely, without a major move or two, that the Capitals would be able to sign Helm.
Why He Could Be a Capital
This is Helm’s first chance to explore unrestricted free agency, so it’s hard to imagine he wont see what the market will offer him. He has little to lose. Helm made it clear at the end of the season that he would like a better defined role in Detroit. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Helm expanded on his position coming into this free agency period:
“I want to win. I don’t really mind playing in the bottom lines as long as there is that respect factor. You’re getting opportunities in different situations. If it looks like that is the case, I’ll get to play in those situations that I feel I can play in, then I’ll be happy. If not, if they tell me right away it’s not going to happen, I might not want to stay.”
If the Capitals can provide a clear job description for Helm, a fairly competitive financial offer and convince Helm that the Caps are on the door-step of a Stanley Cup, one could see Helm breaking loose from Detroit for Washington. The Red Wings are much more constrained by the salary cap when compared to the Washington Capitals (Hello Mike Green), therefore the Red Wings offer may not be as stout as a potential offer the Capitals could make. The Red Wings have a less expensive Drew Miller waiting in the “Wings” should Detroit not be able to re-sign Helm.
By Jon Sorensen