Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin vs. Artemi Panarin: Who’s the Better Rookie?

Jan 17, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) looks for the puck during the second period of the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) looks for the puck during the second period of the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports /

A statistical comparison of the Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin and Chicago Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin, two of the NHL’s top rookies.

The Calder trophy has been a big topic at this point in the NHL season, all due to the fact that the expected nominees are being trumped by other unexpected newcomers. Everyone knew, as if it was fact, that the Edmonton Oilers first overall draft pick of the 2015 NHL Draft was going to be the winner: we are talking about Connor McDavid.

He had melted the hearts of Canadians and had taken over every conversation on SportsNet. Everything was perfect in McDavidtopia, until he went violently into the boards with Del Zotto and Manning on top of him. Hunched over and grasping his shoulder, hockey fans all over held their breath… The Edmonton Oilers worst nightmare had come true.

With McDavid sidelined long-term with a fractured clavicle, this gave way for new rookies to enter the spotlight like the Detroit Red Wings‘ own Dylan Larkin. People have taken notice to him (especially Red Wings fans hopping on the hype train), but now the spotlight was directed toward him and the second overall pick of the 2015 Draft, Jack Eichel.

Using their high playmaking IQ’s, wicked shots and speedy skating, each player had been pushing their teams in a new direction. Max Domi had also been apart of this group, as he and the Coyotes surprised the league with their uprise in play.

Then there was a wild card that came along, “rookie” Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin. 53 games in, he enters Calder talks with his lead in rookie scoring (17 goals) and points (46). There has been some dispute between Hawks and Wings fans on who is the better rookie, and who would have a better chance to win the Calder.

Let’s start with the basics:

Age and experience: Dylan Larkin is 19-years old and Artemi Panarin is 24-years old. When it comes down to it, Panarin has had professional experience playing in the KHL since 2008 until he was signed by the Blackhawks as an undrafted free agent in April of last year. If you’re too lazy to do the math, that’s a total of 9 professional seasons played previous to his NHL debut.

Red Wings
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

Compare that to Dylan Larkin’s LONG experience of one NCAA season at the University of Michigan, 6 AHL playoff games, and a couple of years playing for Team USA in juniors. (For those that didn’t catch the sarcasm, that’s not much experience).

Panarin’s lengthy time in the KHL makes Dylan Larkin look like a child in terms of hockey experience. Larkin was probably still playing in squirts while Panarin was playing professionally. Fact of the matter is, Panarin isn’t an actual rookie. He is a rookie on the basis of a technical matter: it’s his first season in the NHL.

Moving on… The Real Stuff

Stats Don’t Lie: Besides the point that Panarin has had more experience, a side-by-side comparison of the individual statistics and the effect each player has on their team is intriguing. Below is a chart containing Larkin’s and Panarin’s individual stats.

Games Played4853
Primary A/601.00.52

(Statistics shown on this article are from

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

This side-by-side perspective of individual statistics displays the proximity of skill Larkin and Panarin both acquire. Larkin seems to have a slight edge, especially in his production. On average per 60 minutes of ice-time, Larkin produces more goals, primary assists, and points.

Larkin’s production seems to come from his higher individual corsi per 60 minutes (attempted shots), accompanied by his slightly higher shooting percentage.

The most eye-catching is the Primary Assists per 60 minutes: Larkin produces almost double the primary assists Panarin does, highlighting his playmaking ability and intelligence to make Veteran-like passes. On an individual level, Panarin and Larkin are very similar in terms of their statistics (but Larkin has the slightest edge over Panarin, production wise, with his time on ice).

“But Panarin has more points than Larkin, how can he have the edge?”

Even though Larkin has less ice time and has played fewer games at this point, the statistics appear to show that Larkin produces on a more consistent basis; whereas, Panarin can have moments of high production and low/no production that end up averaging lower than Larkin, even though he has more points.

As an Example:

Panarin gets 3 points in 60 minutes of ice time and then 0 the next 60 minutes. Larkin get 2 points in 60 minutes of ice time and then gets 2 more in the next 60 minutes of ice time. Panarin’s Average: 1.5 Points/60 min. Larkin’s Average: 2 points/60 min.

**It’s a small sample size for an example, but  you get the point.

The individual stats aren’t as fascinating as the Team stats: BRACE YOURSELF

           Even Strength Team Statistics


**In case you’re not familiar with it, TMGF60 is the average number of goals the team scores without the player on the ice per 60 minutes. TMGA60 is the average amount of goals scored against the team without the specified player on the ice per 60 minutes.

Looking at this side by side comparison, you can see the large impact Larkin has on his team.

Without Larkin, the Red Wings average between 1 and 2 goals; but with Larkin, it jumps up to between 3 and 4 goals. The offensive spark of Larkin is what the Red Wings need in these struggling periods of stagnant offense. Imagine where the Wings would be at this point in the season without Larkin…. Yikes.

Not only does he offer the offensive spark, he offers a bit of defensive ability as well, keeping the Goals against average on the lower end. It seems as if the Red Wings play collectively better when Larkin is on the ice, with a particular effect on offense. Panarin on the other hand brings up the goals when on the ice, which could possibly be cushioned slightly by red-hot Patrick Kane, but it doesn’t completely justify the difference. I do believe Panarin is a talented young player, but you can only improve a team so much.

Red Wings
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to even strength, Larkin’s Fenwick (Shooting % and Save%) is much higher than Panarin’s. The claim that the difference goaltending could be a determining factor in the SV% is negated here, due to Mrazek and Crawford having virtually the same stats themselves.

Larkin’s higher Fenwick, along with the lower Goal Against average value, really display his impact on the defensive side of the ice. The kid is 19 and already proving he can play at both ends of the ice, as well as be a game changer for the team. On the other hand, Panarin’s GA60 is higher than when he’s off the ice. This could potentially be a signal that he’s not as productive as a two-way forward as Larkin is. His Fenwick also confirms this claim to be true.

Let me make this clear, in no way am I denouncing Panarin’s skill and talent. As a true fan of the sport, I’m going to acknowledge talent when I see it, but I will also analyze the circumstances that present themselves. In this case, I firmly believe Larkin is better than Panarin: Which is especially due to how big of an impact he has on his teammates when he’s on the ice. The statistics tell the story, and the story is all about Dylan Larkin.

Disagree with me? Voice your opinion with me on Twitter @HockeyTDetroit