It’s no secret that the Detroit Red Wings are anxious to add a right-shooting defenceman to their roster. The club has been linked to pretty much every name out there – from Tyler Myers in Buffalo to Tom Gilbert in Montreal to Mike Green in Washington and, yes, to Jeff Petry in Edmonton.
Apparently, discussions between the Wings and the Oilers on the matter go back to the summer.
Via MLive.com’s Ansar Khan comes this bit of news:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland will continue looking for a right-handed shooting defenseman. The Red Wings inquired about Petry in the summer, but the price was too high (the Oilers wanted a center and asked for Darren Helm). The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Petry will be an unrestricted free agent in July, so the Oilers are certain to move him by the deadline. I’m sure Holland will inquire again, but he’s not likely to part with a lot for a rental.
Khan’s entire mailbag feature is dominated by Wings fans wondering what it would take to pick the corpse of the Oilers for players like Petry (would Landon Ferraro or Mitch Callahan be enough, wondered one fan) and Jordan Eberle/Nail Yakupov (“I think trading [prospect Xavier] Ouellet and [Jakub] Kindl (or Johan Franzen) and a possible third-round pick next year for either Yakupov or Eberle would be fair” wrote another). But that isn’t the interesting bit.
The interesting bit is that when Detroit asked, Edmonton evidently came back with Darren Helm’s name and the Red Wings balked.
Helm is an interesting player, one who is imperfect in some ways but does manage to check off a bunch of different boxes. On the positive side:
- He turns 28 in January, so he’s a mid-career player like many of the Oilers’ summer additions.
- He’s posted solid underlying numbers for most of his career, including strong Corsi totals and pretty good scoring numbers for his ice time.
- He’s versatile, spending time on both special teams in Detroit this year.
- He’s fast and physical.
As for the negatives:
- He’s in the Sam Gagner size range, listed a 6’, 196 pounds.
- He’s exceptional on faceoffs this year but for most of his career he’s been in the 50 percent range.
- Most critically, a series of injuries (knee, back and groin) have cost Helm a lot of playing time in recent years; he played just one game in 2012-13 and missed half of 2013-14.
There’s no question that Helm’s a solid player; a very good third-line forward who can probably provide spot duty in an NHL team’s top-six but would be hard-pressed to hold that job (his career shooting percentage, on 650 shots, is a meagre 7.5 percent).
The Petry Deal
It’s worth noting that Khan’s report leaves some questions out there. We don’t know how serious they were (did they go beyond a basic expression of interest on both sides), we don’t know exactly what Edmonton was asking for (it could have been Helm-plus) and we don’t know exactly when this happened.
But the idea of a deal built around Petry-for-Helm does fit what we know about these Oilers. Edmonton did spend most of the summer looking for a pivot; the team may not have been able to pull the trigger on a deal but that they were looking is not news. Helm’s a good little player who solves a bunch of problems on the depth chart; he would have been a nice add and fits into the parameters of the Oilers’ summer search.
We also know that Edmonton has undervalued Petry all down the line, so it isn’t surprising to hear that the Oilers might have been willing to move their best defenceman for a third line centre.