Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Larkin stands to benefit most from roster growth

(Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
(Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings enjoyed a very hectic off-season to date. Now, a month following the opening of the free agency period, as the dust finally settles, I have one question. With general manager Steve Yzerman bolstering the roster, can Dylan Larkin follow up his tremendous 2022-23 season with an even better 2023-24 campaign?

Larkin, 27, is coming off a fantastic season leading the Detroit Red Wings in each offensive category. The two-way center enjoyed a career year, scoring 32 goals and adding 47 assists totaling 79 points over 80 games. Detroit’s captain compiled those numbers with a limited supporting cast. David Perron finished last season a mere 23 points (24-32-56) behind Detroit’s captain.

This season will be a good barometer of what Yzerman’s vision of the Detroit Red Wings will become over the next few seasons. We won’t see the whole picture as there are a plethora of prospects that won’t be in Detroit for a year or two (some longer), but this roster Yzerman has assembled will be similar to the one he’d like to maintain for years to come.

Yzerman clearly has a profile he is trying to create in Detroit. Two things stand out. He wants two-way centers that are reliable in all three zones. His perfect center is a 200-foot player. Look at Detroit’s top three heading into next season—Larkin, Andrew Copp, and J.T. Compher. The trio has much more in common than just having played at the University of Michigan. All three are very reliable two-way players. Then, look at the last two first-round forwards Yzerman selected in the draft. Marco Kasper and Nate Danielson both project as reliable two-way centers. The concern with those two prospects remains, will either become a true No. 1 center or will they settle in as a No. 2A and No.2B option? The other, Yzerman, loves big defenders.

Dylan Larkin is expected to benefit the most from the Detroit Red Wings’ busy off-season.

This past year, Larkin produced solid possession metrics, but it’s an area we should see a considerable jump next season with the addition of star winger Alex DeBrincat. Larkin produced an even strength Corsi For Percentage of 50% last year, a touch below his career average of 51%. He also provided the Detroit Red Wings with a Relative Corsi For Percentage of 5.1, the best mark since his 7.1 back in 2019-20. Another aspect of Larkin’s game that flew under the radar last season was how well he performed in the faceoff circle. Last year he won 54.4% of his draws.

Adding DeBrincat should instantly help improve Larkin’s game in every area. DeBrincat is a two-time 40-plus goal scorer. Many will be quick to credit playing on a line with Patrick Kane, rightfully so, he’s a generational talent to DeBrincant’s success. Last year DeBrincat recorded 27 goals and 66 points playing on a mostly offensively challenged Ottawa Senators club. I don’t think it is out of the question to see DeBrincat notch 35 goals with the Red Wings next season, which should directly boost Larkin’s numbers. Debrincat isn’t the only reason; if Lucas Raymond continues to develop into the player, many of us expect, his offensive abilities will also bode well for Larkin’s immediate success.

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Larkin is a proven goalscorer, having recorded 30-plus goals in back-to-back seasons and three times throughout his career with a limited supporting cast. I don’t believe 35 goals and 90 points for Larkin this coming season is a reach, but do I dare suggest that he and DeBrincat each have 40-goal potential? I don’t think it is out of the question.