The Evolution of Dylan Larkin Into the Detroit Red Wings Next Captain

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 04: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings reacts to his game winning overtime goal to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at Little Caesars Arena on January 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 04: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings reacts to his game winning overtime goal to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at Little Caesars Arena on January 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The way it stands now Dylan Larkin, the hometown boy, is the captain in waiting for the Detroit Red Wings. I think it’s worth taking a look at the evolution of his game that has elevated to the level where he can take over a leadership role.

In the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings selected Dylan Larkin with the 15th overall pick. Larkin from Waterford, Michigan would become the hometown boy on a team that the window of winning was closing, and closing fast.

Currently, in his fourth year in the NHL, Larkin is having one of the best offensive years of his career and is on pace to finish with his best numbers so far. This could not come at a better time for the Detroit Red Wings when all signs point to Larkin being the captain in waiting.

To get a good feel for Larkin’s statistical development over the years, I turned to Hockey-Reference for their advanced statistics as well as his traditional ones. The following two tables are the two that I used for my analysis.

In terms of the traditional stats, Larkin saw a sophomore slump after he came in third on the team in points in the 2015-16 season. After his sophomore slump, it seems like Larkin has figured it out. He bounced back last year with 16 goals and 47 assists for a total of 63 points, and it would sure seem like he is developing very well.

At the all-star break, Larking has 21 goals and 27 helpers for 48 points and is on pace to surpass last years totals. The steady increase should only mean good things to come for the Detroit Red Wings.

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Something else that I noticed on his traditional statistics that I think is important, is that his faceoff win percentage has consistently gotten better. In fact, this year Larkin is winning 50% of the draws he takes, and this is definitely a good thing when Larkin is supposed to be our top centerman.

On top of all of this, if you look at Larkin’s power-play contributions, he has steadily contributed more points as his career has gone on. He currently has 8 points on the power-play this year, which ties last year and it would sure seem like he’s going to well exceed his 2017-18 total. This speaks volume about Larkin’s development because it shows his ability to be the focal point of a power-play, especially one with Mike Green playing quarterback.

After looking at the traditional statistics, I decided that it was great to see noticeable improvement after his sophomore slump. I felt that the analytics would tell more of the story and would genuinely show how Larkin is developing, and growing into the next captain of the Red Wings.

Looking at his Corsi for percentages (CF%), Larkin’s numbers continue to show a great breakout year, a sophomore slump and then showing how he is now on the rise and developing just like the stats above.

What stuck out to me was his Relative Corsi for (CF% rel), showing a consistent 0.9 in his first two years. This essentially means that his on-ice contributions compared to the contributions when he is not on the ice showed minimal impact even though he was in a sophomore slump.

In simplest terms… he was not impacting the lineup that much while on the ice. He then saw a jump to 2.1 and this year is currently sitting a 9.1 which means, he is influencing the way the Red Wings play. Regarding Fenwick, if you prefer that instead, it shows no difference than the Corsi metrics.

It would seem that Larkin is contributing to the team in multiple ways now and he has continuously been developing. During Larkin’s development, you can see how he has affected the Red Wings. When he is on the ice, the Detroit Red Wings are getting more shots on goal and fewer shots against which is only going to help as the years go on and more young players like Larkin filter through.

Having a leader who is contributing heavily to the team will only help him influence those around him. I truly believe the best way to develop the guys who will be here with Larkin is to play them together as I stated in a recent article about keeping Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and Larkin on a line together.

The easiest way to digest all of the analytics and even traditional statistics is just knowing that Larkin’s impending captaincy should only do good things for us. It sure seems like Larkin’s development is heading in the right direction, his production is going up on a team that is struggling.

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With the second half starting, we can only hope that Larkin keeps up the production and shows that his development is far from over. Ideally, he would be the next captain that is here through the rest of the other key young players development, leading this team to success once the young talent is NHL ready.