Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin lined up for a second-period faceoff during Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game final. Opposing the draw was Clayton Keller, a natural winger. Larkin reached out to control the loose puck, kicked it, soccer-style, to gain control and skated nearly unopposed on goalie Juuse Saros, scoring off a backhander.
Larkin finished with three goals on 10 shots, pacing the Atlantic Division’s 7-5 victory over the Central Division in the showcase finale.
Some Red Wings fans are beginning to wonder if Larkin will soon be breaking away to another team. At the start of the season, most were convinced the pending unrestricted free agent will work out a long-term deal with general manager Steve Yzerman.
Now, they are not so certain.
It's @Dylanlarkin39 helping the Atlantic Division pick up the win with his #NHLAllStar @Enterprise hat trick! 🐙 pic.twitter.com/SBxCp9X7CH
— NHL (@NHL) February 4, 2023
Red Wings, Larkin Seek Second-Half Surge
On the fringe of Stanley Cup contention, the Red Wings re-emerge from the all-star break seven points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card position. The Red Wings, who qualified for the playoffs 25 consecutive seasons (1990-2016), have failed to reach the postseason the past six seasons, Larkin’s second campaign.
A Michigan native, Larkin has amassed 162 goals among 401 points in 551 career outings. The 2014 first-round draft pick out of the University of Michigan made the NHL leap without any minor-league stops, complementing proven veterans such as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk at the end of the franchise’s record playoff run.
But Larkin, the team captain since 2021, has yet to lead the club to a winning record – or a playoff berth since the two former all-stars departed. Larkin has produced one playoff goal in five career appearances.
With the March 3 trade deadline approaching and contract extension talks slogging, Larkin insists he is staying focused on the Red Wings improving their fringe postseasons status.
“The biggest part is probably keeping off social media,” Larkin told members of the media last week, as reported by The Detroit News. “The good part about playing and being in the season is you get easily distracted by playing hockey games, which matters most.”
Dylan Larkin is still without a contract extension with the trade deadline rapidly approaching.
What is his future with the Detroit Red Wings? #LGRW @Jackie_Redmond | @EJHradek_NHL | @BJaffe | #NHLNow pic.twitter.com/jpkjLRdIjP
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) January 29, 2023
Larkin on Deal Status: ‘Be Myself and Play the Game Hard’
Larkin, 26, is proving his leadership abilities are adaptable. Under first-year coach Derek Lalonde and skating with a host of offseason additions by Yzerman, Larkin paces the squad in points (43) and assists (28) and shares the team-high of 15 goals with linemate Lucas Raymond. Yzerman likely will not deal Larkin for prospects or draft assets over the next four weeks and could allow negotiations to linger into the offseason. The unrestricted free-agent silly season commences July 1.
With the Red Wings set to host the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, Larkin said he was content to let the campaign play out, insisting he is not concerned with contractual unknowns.
“Not at all,” Larkin said. “I just try to show up to the rink every day and just be myself and play the game hard.”
Yzerman will not lose Larkin via UFA.
That is one thing Red Wings fans can be certain of.