Geek of the Week: Harpin’ on Larkin

Scott Royce

2021-02-28

Editor’s note: Larkin missed Saturday’s game against Chicago, and is also expected to miss Sunday’s game.

When Dylan Larkin was taken 15th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Red Wings fans were over the moon that the team had landed a young stud right out of their own backyard in Michigan. Larkin was touted as a speedy two-way center who could play the game well at both ends, but also had a ton of potential for offensive upside. After having taken Anthony Mantha the year prior, the Wings were hoping they had found their new 1-2 punch of the future. 

After committing to the University of Michigan for a year, Larkin made the team out of training camp in the 2015-16 season and immediately hit the ground running. In his first career game on opening night versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored a goal and an assist and chipped in with six shots. A hell of a debut for a 19-year-old, and it proved to be no fluke either. Larkin enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign that saw him tally 23 goals and 45 points overall. He also managed a very steady 16:33 average time-on-ice which is great for a rookie, but also a great sign for potential fantasy hockey owners. He led the Red Wings in goals, game-winning goals, shots on goal and plus-minus. This impressive debut even earned him some Calder votes in the offseason.

The scenery slowly began to shift over the course of the next two years in Detroit. Larkin's sophomore season would coincide with the departure of Wings legend Pavel Datsyuk, as he opted to travel back to his home in Russia to play in the KHL for St. Petersburg. The following year would be the last for Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg due to a career-ending back injury, With these two goliaths moving on from the Detroit organization, it was very clear a rebuild was underway.

While Larkin experienced a somewhat tumultuous campaign in his second year, he finished off his entry-level contract very nicely. The 2017-18 year was a very nice bounce-back season, He reached a new career high with 232 shots which was way up from his prior season, and he was seeing just under 20 minutes of ice time a game. He earned a career high in points with 63 (16 goals, 47 assists), which led the Wings in scoring. 

The Wings organization had liked what they saw during Larkin's three-year stint and knew they had to lock up their homegrown talent long-term. In mid-August of 2018 only weeks before training camp, the Wings and Larkin came to an agreement on a five-year, $30.5 million contract extension. 

After putting pen to paper, Larkin was poised to prove he