The Detroit Red Wings have locked up forward Darren Helm for the next four years, securing the services of their fastest forward.
The deal is worth $8.5 million, or $2.125 million per season against the cap.
"It's definitely nice that they see me as a player that deserves that," Helm told the Free Press. "I'm very happy with this. It's nice to know where I'm going to be the next four years."
Helm, 25, was a pending restricted free agent, and there never was doubt that the Wings would keep him. Over the past three seasons, he has become a key part of the penalty killing. At even strength, he brings speed and tenacious forechecking. Coach Mike Babcock decried the decreased functionality of the entire bottom six group of forwards after Helm was lost to a knee injury in mid-March and again after he was lost in Game 1 of the playoffs because of a cut to his forearm.
In addition to his staunch play in his own zone, Helm has shown himself capable of contributing offensively, topping 10 goals in two of the past three seasons, and reaching nine goals in 68 games this past season.
His signing brings the Wings to 12 forwards under contract for 2012-13, but that doesn't mean much at the moment. They will pursue adding a top-end forward -- such as Zach Parise -- on July 1, and may well end up deciding Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak don't fit into the future in Detroit.