Detroit Red Wings look to replace Darren Helm on top line

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 7: Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center on October 7, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 7: Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center on October 7, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings have lost Helm until further notice with an upper-body injury.  He has been an essential part of the Wings early season special teams success his season.

Darren Helm doesn’t exactly strike me as an impact player.  He is not a guy who will chip in with a bunch of points or a guy the opposition targets to matchup against.  Helm is not a first line NHL player, but that is precisely where Jeff Blashill and the Detroit Red Wings have him.

Helmer is a worker bee type player.  He is the chip and chase player on the top line for the Detroit Red Wings.  Playing on Dylan Larkin‘s wing, opposite of Anthony Mantha oddly makes sense, and it has worked up until this point for the season.

He works in the offensive zone corners, he works down below the goal line digging and hacking, vigorously trying to get the puck out to his more skilled linemates. His defensive awareness makes up for Mantha’s lack thereof.

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Dylan Larkin has mentioned he loves to play with Helm because he is so reliable defensively.  It is a much more significant loss to the Detroit Red Wings than it appears on the surface.  Helm logs a lot of penalty kill time, over 2 minutes a game on the PK to be exact.

He is primarily a winger but can be a center.  With the NHL linesman wanting so much attention and power, they throw players out of the faceoff circle faster than we throw our spare change into our cup holders after buying a morning coffee.  The Wings basically have two centermen on the top line who can take critical draws.

So how do the Detroit Red Wings adjust their lineup to fill the loss of Darren Helm?  The second line has been playing exceptionally well.  I would not be interested in breaking that group up unless they start to slump.  Andreas Athanasiou with Gustav Nyquist both flanking Frans Nielsen has provided a terrific encore to the Larkin line.

The third line of Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader and Tyler Bertuzzi have been terrific together.  They go out and cause havoc after the top two lines have finished up a shift.  The trio like to be physical and play down below the goal line.  They cycle the puck around, bang the body and create scoring chances by being physical and crashing the net.

Tyler Bertuzzi would be my choice to move up to the left wing on the top line.  He started the season there; he has a bit more scoring touch than Abdelkader.  He is a bit better skater and has no problem working his tail off to get the puck to Mantha and Larkin and heading straight to the front of the net.

Abdelkader may find himself skating on that line some too, but the days of Abdelkader skating as a top 6 forward are in the rearview mirror.   He had a career year playing with Pavel Datsyuk, but Pav could make a below average player look good.

Jeff Blashill should elevate Jacob de La Rose to play with Abby and Glendening replacing Bert.  Wade Megan can be slated in on the fourth line between Rasmussen and Frk until Thomas Vanek is ready to return.

Once Vanek returns the Wings have more options.  Vanek will bump Megan from the lineup and allow de La Rose to play as the fourth center.  Vanek can play a wing on any line, one thru four.  When he is ready to roll, he will probably start with Abby and Glendening.

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I would like to see AA play some with Larkin and Mantha.  I think that trio could be extremely dangerous creating a lot of space with their speed and creativity.  Vanek could then be elevated to the second line with Frans and Gus, allowing that effective, boards rattling third line to be reunited.