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Avalanche free-agent addition Darren Helm won the Stanley Cup as an NHL rookie in 2008. The speedy forward played just seven regular-season games for the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08, but 18 of 22 in the playoffs and all six in the Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Helm hoisted the Cup at age 21, and after 14 seasons with the Red Wings, he hopes to hoist it again next summer at age 35.
“My first year, it was a great experience. Loved every part of it,” Helm said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. “I think we missed another opportunity in ’09 and then it’s been a cold drought for the last (12) years. Really looking forward to (being) part of this team.”
Helm signed a one-year contract worth $1 million last Thursday with the Avs, a day after free agency began. He’ll likely step in on the fourth line and serve as a primary penalty killer, effectively replacing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, 36, who signed a two-year, $2 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
Helm’s 744 career regular-season games with Detroit rank 17th-most for the Original Six franchise.
“Mixed emotions. Been here for a long time,” Helm said about leaving Detroit — likely for just one year. “I’ve raised a family here. I’m sure this will be home for my family when we’re done. (But) when I heard the news that everything had happened (with Colorado), I was extremely excited. Just really looking forward to playing with the Avs and being on a contending team.”
Helm is now the Avalanche’s oldest player at age 34. He also leads the club in playoff experience (82 games).
“Darren is a high-energy, competitive player who brings veteran leadership to our team,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said in a statement last week. “He helps our depth up front, is good on faceoffs and is an effective penalty killer. Darren is a Stanley Cup champion who will be a great addition to our dressing room.”