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Avalanche offseason

Avs sign veteran Darren Helm



Darren Helm
Steven King/Icon Sportswire

Darren Helm, a 34-year-old veteran who spent 14 straight seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, is now property of the Colorado Avalanche. Helm just signed a one-year, $1 million deal with Colorado.

Helm is a left winger, the same position Brandon Saad played before he left today for St. Louis. If the Avs believe he’s a top-six replacement for Saad, though? I would say that’s a major stretch. This is probably more of a depth signing.

First off, Darren Helm scored only three goals in 47 games for the Red Wings this past season. He hasn’t scored 10 goals since the 2017-18 season. He has 112 goals in 744 career NHL games, all with Detroit.

My take: A bit of a weird signing. But he’s a good PK guy and good faceoff guy, so it’s probably more of a replacement for a guy like a Bellemare or a Donskoi than a Saad. It’s a one-way contract, so expect to see Helm on the Avs’ roster, not the Eagles. The $1 million cap hit means the avs are down to $3.8 million worth of room, according to PuckPedia.

Still enough money to sign another decent free-agent forward.

The Avs need another good stick. They lost Saad and Joonas Donskoi, and so far the forward replacements have been Helm and Mikhail Maltsev. That’s not enough. But, again, I expect another free-agent signing with that available money. Or, maybe they think Alex Newhook will be ready to step into a top-six spot full-time.

MORE SIGNINGS: The Avs have also signed depth forwards Stefan Matteau and Dylan Sikura to one-year, two-way contracts. Here’s more on both players, from Avs PR:

Sikura, 26, spent the 2020-21 season with the Vegas Golden Knights and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. He appeared in six contests for Vegas, recording two points (2g/0a) and tallied 22 points (11g/11a) in 30 games with Henderson. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound center made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut with the Golden Knights on June 2, 2021 in Game 2 of the second-round series against Colorado and appeared in two total postseason contests. He notched five points (3g/2a) in three playoff games for the Silver Knights, his first playoff action in the AHL.

Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Sikura has produced 16 points (3g/13a) in 53 career regular-season NHL games for Chicago and Vegas. He has totaled 90 points (42g/48a) in 121 career AHL outings with the Rockford IceHogs and Henderson.

The Aurora, Ontario, native played four seasons of NCAA hockey for Northeastern University from 2014-18, collecting 146 points (58g/88a) in 137 career games. Sikura served as an alternate captain in his senior campaign in 2017-18 and recorded 54 points (22g/32a) in 35 games to rank third in the nation in points, second in points-per-game (1.54) and first in the NCAA in power-play goals (14). He was named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star, CCM/ACHA All-American and was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Matteau, 27, appeared in 18 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2020-21, recording one point (1g/0a). Selected by the New Jersey Devils in the first round (29th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, Matteau has collected 11 points (6g/5a) in 91 career NHL contests with the Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Vegas Golden Knights and Blue Jackets.

The 6-foot-2, 208-pound center has played 361 career games in the American Hockey League with the Albany Devils, St. John’s IceCaps, Chicago Wolves and Cleveland Monsters, recording 146 points (69g/77a) and has added 14 points (7g/7a) in 32 career Calder Cup Playoff outings. Matteau tallied eight points (3g/5a) in 21 playoff games, all postseason career highs, in 2019 to help the Wolves reach the Calder Cup Final, eventually losing to Charlotte in five games.

Prior to turning pro, Matteau played one season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, producing 28 points (18g/10a) in 35 games and nine points (3g/6a) in 11 playoff games during the 2012-13 season. The Chicago, Illinois, native also played for the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2010-12 and recorded 50 points (22g/28a) in 93 contests.

Matteau is the son of Stephane Matteau, who played 848 career NHL games for the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers and won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994.

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