After being drafted back in 2014, Dylan Larkin is finding his game again years later. Detroit drafted the hometown player with their 15th pick that entry-level draft. Hopes were high for the then 18-year-old. He stepped into the league his first season and played in a resounding 80 games and picked up 45 points with 23 of them being goals. Though his efforts were great, he only took 5th in Calder Trophy votes that season. Artemi Panarin’s 77 points guaranteed him the trophy. Of course, like most players who jump into the league he struggled a little his following years. Even though his numbers were relatively solid, they just weren’t what people expected.
“Two-way player at the centre position who displays excellent balance and jump all over the 200 foot sheet. Sees the ice well and makes plays in the offensive zone with both skill and grit. Plays strong on the puck and shows some snarl in the battle zones. Displays soft hands and sets up a whole lot of chances for his linemates. Very responsible in his defensive zone. Smart and aware on the attack, and deceptively quick.” -Bill Placzek
Dylan had spent years with the National Team Development Program and developed into a solid forward. His pace on the ice, easy hands, and vision helped him earn his spot that high on the draft. He tallied 68 goals and 55 assists during his time in the NTDP.
The Struggle Seasons
After having such high prospects on his career, Larkin appeared to struggle a little in a couple of the seasons after his debut. In the 162 games the following two seasons, he only tallied 33 goals. Still, it was a fairly respectable number, but the biggest issue was how he had a +11 season during his debut, then went -28 and -9. His production was adequate but his coverage and positioning on defense wasn’t nearly as good. As he gained experience the coaches did lean on him more and raised his ice time from 16:33 on average up to a 19:51 in his third season.
The Come Back
During the 2018-19 season, Dylan racked up his career-high for goals in a season. His 32 goals in his 76 games played led the team that year. He was also able to clean up his play behind the blue line and finish the season with a nice -6. Of course as his game got better so did defenses playing against him. This time he focused on his game and continued to be a playmaker for the team. His 34 assists lead the team in the 19-20 year. Even though he didn’t tally a lot of goals, he still helped the team produce. Now, even during the covid shortened season Dylan was still producing assists for his team. Fast forward to the start of this season.
In 2021-22 he is currently averaging a little over a point a game. In the 28 games that he’s played so far, he’s gotten 15 goals and 14 assists. Averaging just under 19 minutes a game, it was a question of whether or not he was even going to be ready for the start of the season. Larkin had taken a cheap shot to the back of the neck that ended his season early the year before. He’s definitely bounced back and looks like his young self again. Probably thanks to his linemates Tyler Bertuzzi (26 years old) and Lucas Raymond (19 years old).
Larkin has been named the captain of the Red Wings in January of 2021 and has really stepped up since. Even with the weird seasons that we’ve had due to covid and other things. With the C on his chest, Larkin joins a long list of hockey greats to be captain of the Red Wings. The youth involvement on the team and the boost of confidence from the organization have helped Dylan develop into a great leader and player. Look to him to develop further and help push his team further too. Even though he may not be putting up superstar numbers like McDavid and Ovechkin, he is quietly putting himself in a very great spot. This still young stars future is very bright. Do not underestimate him.
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