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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.

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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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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Guess the blood feud has been totally forgotten, I’m just shocked! Oh well at least we still have a great book to read about the old times! – Thanks AD


This off season gives me a bad taste in my mouth so far. I believe the Avs are a weaker team than they were last season.

Jordan Leonard

Not really, Frankie/Kuemper/JJ is stronger than Gru/Dub/JJ, and Saad was great but easily replaced with Kaut or Newhook or Ranta, all 3 easily middle to top 6 talent. We are actually on par and arguably stronger


Sure seems like this off-season leaves much to be desired (again). Resigning Landy was great (even if overpaid), but the trade with Arizona, this, and protecting Grubauer causing loss of Donskoi…failing to replace the other losses…don’t see how the roster starting next season will be better than the one that failed to make it out of the second round. Granted, appears to be a ‘leveling’ throughout the league, but comparing Colorado versus Tampa…same approach, results not the same. They also lost, but they’ve kept their core intact plus their goalie. Colorado needed to jettison Grubauer, but sure seemed like the… Read more »

Yan Girard

Look at the age of Tampa’core vs the age of Colorado’core. Look the path of Stamkos, Hedman, Palat, Johnson, Killorn and Kucherov over the years. These players learned of the previous experiences and became of the better players.

John Klingenstein

Newhook is way more talented than Saad or Donskoi. I wasn’t too impressed with Saad in the regular season. Their were tons of games where he wasn’t noticeable. I expect the 2nd line to be Newhook, Burky and Kadri. Could even move Landy around at times. 3rd line Jost with Nichkushkin and Compher. I think Compher is gonna have a big year and make up for Donskoi and I expect Jost to have a lot more production too. He was right on the verge of exploding. 4th line and combo of Maltsev, Helm, LOC, Sherwood, MacDermid, Rambo Santa, Kaut, Megna,… Read more »

Jordan Leonard

Move Nuke to 2nd line and have Newhook center and Kadri be the other winger, Burky to 3rd line with Jost and Kaut, have Compher center that 4th line with Ranta and LOC


You’re like the guy that always predicted the Broncos would go 16-0.


Not a weird signing, and not a replacement for Saad. This is a Bellemare replacement–fourth-liner with lots of speed and great penalty killing experience.

Jared Moss

Could have been better if helm came in a less $ but I assume hes for the PK. His point production is non existant but he was playing for the wings…. hopefully he can be rejuvanated on a way better team. Go Avs go hopefully joe has one bigger player left up his sleeve. Hopefully newhooks in the gym right now we need a Calder trophy from him this year yo make up for the losses

Daniel Parker

Capfriendly says we still have 7.1 million in cap space. Which one is correct?


Any truth to them looking at Tatar? He would fit nicely into top 6

Jordan Leonard

We have Kaut, Newhook, and Ranta, all of whom are easily middle to top 6 talent. Saad was only ever a stop gap and we can easily replace our losses with guys we already have. Depth signing is all we need


Another junk move by Sakic. Bellemare signs a two year, $1M AAV contract with Tampa Bay (congrats to Bellemare) and Helm is the same AAV but only for one year? Dumb. So far, this team has lost Grubauer, Saad, Graves, Donskoi and Bellemare. We’ll, we get to keep mini “D” Sammy Girard and add an “enforcer” (who knows how much he’ll play) plus other Flotsam and Jetsom, ala Nemeth and Soderberg. Avs fighting for a bottom playoff spot and the obligatory “one and done” end to the season.


Agreed – unless it is shown (not said/hoped for but shown) that Sakic & Co. know something about what’s ready to come out of the pipeline, then the roster is markedly…not debatably, but markedly…inferior to that that failed to make it out of the second round. Will still be an entertaining team to watch during the regular season with the top line and Makar, but at this juncture, making the playoffs looks like about where expectations should be.

Yan Girard

Joe Sakic is a Hall of fame and one of the players of the best ever in NHL. Joe Sakic is surrounded of an important hockey experts team for all hockey decisions regarding the Avs. Joe Sakic has a plan and knows his hockey. You seem to believe to know the magic recipe to lead the Avs at the Stanley Cup. If that was so easy, all NHL teams would win the Stanley Cup every year. I am perfectly confidence in Joe Sakic. Did you see Helm to play the last season? You don’t understand the current decisions? Do you… Read more »


If your goal is to win the Stanley Cup, it’s not with mini me defensemen like Sammy Girard or the lame brain moves by Sakic as GM this past year. Helm is a decent player. But I’d take Bellemare over him in a New York second. The worthless acquisitions of Nemeth and Soderberg were inexcusable. The misplaying of Sakic in the goal tending situation and trade of Graves, the subsequent ill advised draft choice ( another mini me defensemen) and the loss of depth with Donskoi and Saad are evidence that Joe has reached his Peter Principle. I won’t relent… Read more »

Yan Girard

Sakic wanted voluntarily to lose Donskoi and Graves to reduce the payroll to paid Landeskog and Makar. The Avs has many elite players and there is a cost for that. Like it or not, Samuel Girard is an elite player in NHL and Joe Sakic does an excellent work since that he is Avs GM. When Samuel Girard and Joe Sakic will lift the Stanley Cup, you will think at me.


2nd round. out. lesser roster. out. wish upon a lucky star all you want – facts are facts and don’t care.

Yan Girard

Kadri and Johnson didn’t play in second round in playoffs. These both players are better than Donskoi and Graves respectively. To replace Saad, there is the factor X in the young players (Ranta, Newhook, Kaut, etc.). Also, Grubauer did not deliver in playoffs. When the issue was important, Grubauer demonstrated that he wasn’t right for the job. Don’t forget that Grubauer chosen Seattle, a team where he will play without stress because of the low expectations. Can Kuemper be the solution? Maybe yes or not. Statistically, Kuemper is better than Grubauer while playing for a worse team. Kuemper won the… Read more »


Hopefully you are well paid (and this is only a stepping stone towards the growing wide world of …) – but excuses and wishful thinking add up to zero wins, and zero chance of advancing in the playoffs…

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