Born: July 30, 1996
Birthplace: Waterford Township, MI
Weight: 190 lbs
Path to the Red Wings: Drafted by Detroit 15th overall in 2014
Contract Status: Signed through 2017-18 @ $925,000/year
Let’s go back to the 2014 draft. When Larkin was initially drafted, many people said "Huh, that’s interesting. Cool that he is a local kid, going to University of Michigan. Okay. We’ll see what he’s got." It was certainly more reserved than how excited fans were for Anthony Mantha in the previous draft. Larkin was described as "Helm with scoring ability," and we fans were largely fine with the pick, but not ecstatic.
Oh how far he has come since then.
Dominant performances in college, solid performances in the 2015 World Championships, and a few games with the Grand Rapids Griffins further stoked the flames. Larkin was going to be something for the Wings, but what and when?
Training camp came and Larkin looked great. Heck, most of the youngsters were awesome. However, there was one question on every Wings fan’s mind - would Larkin make the opening roster, or would he follow the path of seemingly every other rookie and be left on the vine to ripen in Grand Rapids?
Before the season opener, Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill came out and said that Larkin was in. A teenager was on the Detroit Red Wings opening night roster.
In his first NHL game he scored a goal and an assist against Babcock and the Leafs. We all cheered, but he was just getting started.
Performance vs. Expectations
It is tough to pin down a solidified set of expectations for Larkin’s rookie season. He progressed so fast that, in the time from when he was drafted to when he made the opening night roster, most expectations we had of him were already exceeded. He went from a solid draft pick, to a good prospect, to our top prospect, to the potential future face of the franchise in less than 2 years. So, what were his expectations going into the 2015-2016 season?
I am going to say that we expected him to inject some speed, skill, and excitement into the lineup, score a few goals, and maybe make some noise in the Calder race.
With this baseline, let’s see how Larkin did.
- Already noted, he scored a goal and an assist in his first ever NHL game
- He was the NHL rookie of the month in November
- He led the league in +/- for the first few months
- In the first half of the season, he was in the thick of the Calder Cup race
- Elected to the NHL All Star team as a rookie (first for Detroit since Steve Yzerman)
- Larkin broke Mike Gartner’s 20-year-old fastest skater record at the All Star game
- Led Detroit in goals with 23
- Led Detroit in +/- with +11
- Solid 52.5% Corsi For
Larkin started off the season with a bang. He solidified himself as one of the premier rookies in the league, and at one point Paul Holmgren of the Flyers wanted to kidnap him. Stay away Paul.
Are there any knocks against him? Only a few.
As the season wore on, Larkin’s numbers slumped alongside the entire team. Additionally, his two-way play could have used some work. Finally, he only put up 1 goal in his 5 playoff games.
None of these minuses give my critical eye pause, as this is fairly typical for rookies. No, Dylan Larkin is not yet Steve Yzerman. He has a ways to go, and who knows what kind of player he will become.
It is hard to keep expectations in check with rookies like Larkin. He exploded on the scene this year and now the sky's the limit. I hope that he keeps up his apparent work ethic, and that enough things go his way so that we may see him as a leader in Detroit for years to come.
The hockey world learned that Detroit has something special in Dylan Larkin. He is smart, fast, and skilled. His interviews show that he is humble and professional. Even as a rookie, he plays with confidence and purpose, and he isn’t afraid to shoot.
Dylan Larkin has all the makings of an elite player and a franchise cornerstone.
Every expectation I had early on was quickly exceeded, and at some point I just had to sit back and enjoy the Snip Show.
It has been an absolute treat to watch Larkin’s rookie season unfold. He is an incendiary player, and a bright light in an otherwise dim year for Detroit sports. Years from now I’ll still remember his first NHL goal, his rookie season All-Star game, and his fastest skater record. Henrik Zetterberg said it best: "It’s special playing with him his first year. That’s something that I’ll probably always remember and probably tell my kids when I get older."
So there you have it. A 15th overall pick, spent on a hometown kid, turned into a rookie phenom and the potential face of the franchise.
Thank you, D-Boss.