Larkin, 26, posted career-bests across the board offensively this past season and was far and away the Detroit Red Wings’ top forward, and overall player, for that matter. This past season, Larkin tied a career-high 32 goals, which he hit once before back in 2018-19, and paired that with 47 assists. Detroit’s captain also totaled 47 assists once before in 2017-18. Tying the individual career bests gave him a career-high 79 points over 80 games. This robust production surpassed a stellar 31-goal, 69-point campaign from a year ago.
The knock on Larkin early on in his career had been his inconsistent play and offensive production. Following a respectable 45-point rookie season, Larkin produced just 32 points in 80 games. After bouncing back with 63 and 73-point seasons, Larkin’s numbers again dipped to 53 points and then 23 points over 44 games in the COVID-19-shortened season. With Larkin accumulating a near-point-per-game pace over the past two seasons (148 points in 151 games), the Detroit captain has (or at least should have) quieted his doubters.
Dylan Larkin is quieting critics with back-to-back solid seasons for the Detroit Red Wings.
This past season, the Waterford, Michigan product mirrored his point total per 60 minutes from a year ago, recording 3P/60. While averaging just over 19 minutes per night, Larkin maintained a Corsi For Percentage of 53.5 and a Relative Corsi For of 9.7 in all situations. Using the same metrics for even strength situations, Larkin had a CF% of 50.0 and a Relative Corsi For of 5.1.
I’ve previously mentioned that perhaps Larkin is not a bona fide number-one center. Still, he’s been able to be productive in the role and basically single handily carry a lackluster group of forwards. No, he’s not Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby, or Jack Hughes, but he’s just a level below.
I’ve always envisioned Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman encouraging Larkin to model his game around someone like Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron, like Crosby, plays in all situations and is as good of a checking center as there is in the league. Bergeron is one of the top two-way centers in the game, yet he was never considered one of the league’s best at his position.
During the regular season, in what felt like a long and exhausting process, the Detroit Red Wings locked up their captain this season to an eight-year extension that averages $8.7 million per season. With a new deal comes enhanced expectations. I do believe Larkin will be able to continue to produce offensively in the same manner he has over the past two seasons, and he will be expected to.
Now, if Larkin is considered Batman, Yzerman needs to find him a Robin this summer. Regardless of what you think about Larkin, he is a top-two centerman. Yzerman either needs to find an even better option down the middle or someone equivalent to anchor the first or second line. Adding said player would allow head coach Derek Lalonde to slide Andrew Copp down a line to the third group in a role he’d be much more efficient in.