The traditional method of ranking individual player performance is usually some sort of “report card” or “A+” grading system. Not here. You see, we like to keep things simple at TPL. You either made the grade or you didn’t. No grey area. Black and white. This is “Pass/Fail.”
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Where do you even start with this kid? He played in every game for the Wings this year. He was top 20 in the league in shorthanded goals. He has speed for days. And he’s only 24 years old. For Darren Helm, this season couldn’t have gone much better on an individual level, as his improvement continued for yet another season. There’s no doubting his speed, and watching him wind up and take off gets the heart racing every single time it happens. 32 points and a +9 regular season rating from a 3rd/4th line center is something that any team in this league would love to have, and one can only wish that Helm’s work ethic would magically seep into the pores of every guy in the lineup. He was a nasty forechecker all season long, did the dirty work that a mucker is supposed to do, and flashed his brilliance on numerous occasions. He’s turned the dump and chase off the half-boards into a science and it paid off not only for him, but the guys on his line as well. The Draper-Helm-Eaves line was a pleasant surprise throughout the entire year, and Helm reaped the benefits as he scored a career high 12 goals. He’s quietly turning into one heck of a playmaker and the future remains so, so bright for this kid.
Sadly, for all the good in his game, poor #43 still can’t seem to finish on the breakaway. It’s been a problem for him ever since he made the big club, and every time he gets stoned, I half expect him to wind up and smash his stick along the boards. He’s the Luis Mendoza of this club: Mendoza couldn’t stop in D2: The Mighty Ducks, and Helm just can’t finish when he’s all alone on net. It’s almost comical at this point, but it is a real issue and he’s trying to work it out. Apparently, Helm (by his own admission) was playing “too fast” this year. He said he was working on slowing his game down a bit, but that sounds more like a mental crutch than an actual problem. He just needs to relax and work on adding a move or two to get goaltenders to bite, and I’ll bet the puck will start finding the twine more often. He’s also got some work to do on the penalty kill, as he has a tendency to wander out too far on the point and leave the back pass open. That’s something that will come with time and experience, but if Helm really is looking to slow his game down a bit, his patience and positioning on the PK is a good place to start.
The picture says it all. Anyone who can pull off Todd Bertuzzi for Halloween gets major bonus points.
Disch: If the man had a scoring touch he’d be on every shit-eating reebok ad in the country. Just not the man’s game, and I’m fine with that. Does everything else you ask of a hockey player except put the puck in the net on a clean breakaway. Never pictured him as more than a great fourth line guy leading into this season. Assume a lot of people, like me, are rethinking that position if they’d previously held it.
Petrella: The man can do everything. Except score on breakaways. But he is so damn good…and only getting better.
Hollis: He’s just such a weapon on the ice and one can only imagine that he’s going to get better. His work ethic is second-to-none and that should never be taken for granted.
Final TPL Grade
Up Next: Jakub Kindl