Detroit Red Wings: The NHL Network has Dylan Larkin ranked No. 19

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

In a recent countdown, the NHL Network ranked the Detroit Red Wings captain, Dylan Larkin, as the 19th-best center in hockey heading into the 2023-24 regular season.

Larkin, 27, is coming off a career year, scoring 32 goals and totaling 79 points over 80 games. Many fans, myself included, have often questioned if Detroit’s captain is better suited as a second-line center when the Detroit Red Wings become serious Stanley Cup contenders. It’s been a debate for quite some time, and it will be likely throughout Larkin’s entire career. Just remember, Sergei Fedorov had been Detroit’s second-line center behind Steve Yzerman for years; it’s not an insult.

Speaking of second-line centers. Evgeni Malkin ranked No. 18 on this list, just behind who I believe is the most underrated forward in the game Anze Kopitar. The pair of future Hall of Famers ranked just ahead of Larkin despite being significantly older. Larkin is still growing as a player, and I feel the best is yet to come. Kopitar and Malkin have remained incredibly productive well into their mid-to-late 30s. Kopitar, who turns 36 years old later this month, is coming off a 28-goal, 74-point season. Malkin, 37, just finished up a 27-goal, 83-point performance with the Penguins.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin ranks No. 19 on the NHL Network’s list of centers.

Larkin isn’t and never will be the premium goal-scoring type such as Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid, but much of Detroit’s success is firmly on his shoulders. If Larkin is going, the Detroit Red Wings are going. If Larkin is injured or having an off night, Detroit’s chances of winning the hockey game significantly decrease.

The Detroit Red Wings captain is a strong skater and a dynamic playmaker with the ability to finish, but there is plenty more to his game. Larkin is a reliable penalty killer and an above-average center in the faceoff circle. With general manager Steve Yzerman bolstering Detroit’s lineup this off-season, particularly with the additions of Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher, Daniel Sprong, and Shayne Gostisbehere, Larkin is someone who should really benefit on the stat sheet.

The NHL Network listed Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews as the league’s top three centers.

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In the Atlantic Division, Larkin ranked as the 6th best centerman behind Matthews, Brayden Point, Aleksander Barkov, Tage Thompson, and Tim Stutzle.