As the organization continues to retool, reload, or rebuild, whatever term you prefer to use, head coach Jeff Blashill and the Detroit Red Wings need a more consistent effort from their leader. Last season Larkin only recorded nine goals totaling 23 points over 44 games and skated to a Corsi For Percentage of 48.6%.
To give you a comparison, the teams’ trade deadline accusation Jakub Vrana scored eight goals and totaled 11 points in just 11 games with the Red Wings.
I have not shied away from expressing my feelings about Larkin. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I feel he’s a solid NHL center, but he’s clearly not a first-line center or a ‘cornerstone’ franchise player.
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The Detroit Red Wings need a more consistent Dylan Larkin in 2021-22.
If the Detroit Red Wings have hopes of eventually turning the corner, they need Dylan Larkin to become the player he was in 2018-19, where he recorded career-highs in goals with 32 and points with 73.
During that season, I felt Larkin had finally arrived. He wasn’t just scoring but also becoming a reliable two-way center similar to the Boston Bruins, Patrice Bergeron. Unfortunately, over the next two seasons, his offensive production has steadily decreased. In 18-19, Larkin produced a spectacular 0.96 points per game but followed it up with a 0.74 point per game rate and then a 0.52 rate last season.
Some of this production, or lack thereof, is certainly due to a lackluster supporting cast. Larkin also battled injuries last season, plus was without a staple on his wing, Tyler Bertuzzi, who was limited to just nine games due to a back injury that required surgery.
As we continue to watch the YzerPlan hopefully come to fruition, there is plenty of pressure for Larkin to succeed, knowing there are few alternative options within the organization.
The Detroit Red Wings have plenty of highly touted prospects, but none of which play center.
Moritz Seider, and Simon Edvinsson are defenders. Lucas Raymond, and Jonatan Berggren are wingers. I like both Michael Rasmussen and Joseph Veleno, but neither project to be a first-line center, and of course, Filip Zadina, Bertuzzi, and Vrana are all wingers.
If healthy, Blashill can sandwich Larkin between Bertuzzi and Vrana on the top line; there will be no more excuses. Larkin needs to be the anchor; he needs to be the player who elevates others, not the player looking elsewhere to enhance his game.
The Detroit Red Wings added free agent center Pius Suter to help solidify their lineup down the middle. It will allow Robby Fabbri to move back to the wing, where he seems more comfortable. Detroit is expected to go Larkin, Suter, Veleno, and Rasmussen down the middle next season, and that’s a far better group than we’ve seen over the past few seasons.