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The Malik Report

The Outlook For Dylan Larkin

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: After a smooth transition from college to the NHL in 2016-17, Larkin took a step back last season, not uncommon for young players.

He didn't have as much space or time to make plays. It was more difficult to score, harder to defend. He described it as a learning experience and vowed to be more mentally prepared heading into this season, realizing he has a lot to learn about this league.

He will get another opportunity at center, where the team will soon need a young player to step up and assume the No. 1 spot after Henrik Zetterberg retires. He wasn't prepared for it at the start of last season but fared better near the end of the year and performed well there at the World Championship.

Zetterberg is expected to remain the top-line center, so playing on the second or third line should help Larkin with the transition, where he's not going up against the best players all the time. Larkin flourished the first half of his rookie season on Zetterberg's wing; he must find a way to thrive without the captain.

He has tremendous speed, which he often uses to circle the perimeter looking for an opportunity. Adding strength should help him be more effective on the inside.

Key question: Will a slightly more experienced Larkin adjust to the center spot?

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Comments

TreKronor's avatar

I’m hoping last season was a bit of a wake up call after a very successful, almost easy looking first season.  With that, I’d hope he’s put more time into the game this summer and will come in with a bit more humble mindset.

Posted by TreKronor on 08/10/17 at 08:06 AM ET

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In his second season teams knew Larkin had speed and pushed him wide. Then they camped someone out at the back post or it was covered better by goalies knowing Larkin wouldn’t be coming to the near post. Larkin’s problems begin there and he showed no ability to adjust his game as the season wore on. Larkin needs to develop his passing accuracy and his vision. If two defenders are focusing on him, someone is open. He needs to find that person and make the pass to them for a good shot. He could also use a quick stop and shot/pass like MJ’s hard drive, quick stop and jumper. He protects the puck really well which helps his speed. A wicked, quick redirection move would make defenders go crazy with not knowing what Larkin is up to.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 10:14 AM ET

damndog's avatar

As I said last year I still think the wings need to use Larkin like Pittsburgh Penguins use Phil Kessel. Go for those home run shots utilizing his speed to get him alone or least one on one with a defender. Put him on the wing; the wings have drafted enough centers last few years try them out use them.

Posted by damndog from The Eastside of Detroit on 08/10/17 at 10:44 AM ET

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If you look at Larkin’s 2 seasons as 4 half seasons it’s pretty ugly:

1) Amazing
2) Bad
3) Bad
4) Bad

I repeatedly see fans hype Larkin as some kind of exciting young talent. Just yesterday people said…oh Tavares might be interested in signing in Detroit because we have young guys like Larkin and Mantha.

Sorry. Larkin is nothing special. His performance thus far is inline with a typical mid-1st round pick. Like go back a few years and look at centers drafted in the 10-30 range. Once you remove the handful of complete busts, you see most of these guys putting up around 0.50 PPG like Larkin. Think of guys like Bjugstad, Coyle, Brock Nelson, JT Miller, Namestnikov, Rakell, Hertl, TT, Schmaltz, Fabbri, Wennberg.

That’s Larkin. A nice piece. But nothing more than a complimentary player. The view from most fans is so unrealstic. I remember people saying he’d be a 80-90 point player. LOL. We should be happy if he can actually play the position at centre.

Posted by fatsavage on 08/10/17 at 10:51 AM ET

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I’m hoping last season was a bit of a wake up call

I’m curious how it would be a wake up call. Larkin spent much of his time at centre playing with useless offensive players on his wings.

He’ll have a better season pretty much automatically if Blashill gives him some decent wingers.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 08/10/17 at 10:52 AM ET

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As I said last year I still think the wings need to use Larkin like Pittsburgh Penguins use Phil Kessel. Go for those home run shots utilizing his speed to get him alone or least one on one with a defender

There are very “big” differences between Kessel’s game and Larkin’s. Start with size. Phil utilizes his size as a counter move to his speed. Larkin does not have that aspect to his game. Phil uses his size to move to the net when his path around it is blocked. Larkin doesn’t have that. Phil has a decade in the league in which he worked on developing his game. Larkin is in a make or break season.

If you look at Larkin’s 2 seasons as 4 half seasons it’s pretty ugly
why not break his 2 seasons down into even smaller chunks to make you point?

I repeatedly see fans hype Larkin as some kind of exciting young talent.
ahh….on this team of weakling players that even you have laid into at least Larkin has occasionally given fans some excitement.

That’s Larkin. A nice piece. But nothing more than a complimentary player.
This season will prove your hypothesis right or wrong. Two does not make a series. Three does.

Thanks again for being the “sobering voice of reality.”

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 11:20 AM ET

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Larkin spent much of his time at centre playing with useless offensive players on his wings.

A true #1 center would find a way to make those players better. Remember how that Datsyuk guy made a 4th liner into a 20 goal scorer?

He’ll have a better season pretty much automatically if Blashill gives him some decent wingers.

If Larkin is going to play #1,#2 Center he needs to be able to make bad players into decent players and good players into great players. I think what it sounds like you are suggesting is that Larkin is made better only by being in a lineup with players already good. The wing’s don’t need that (that’s just another Abbey). The Wings need someone who is going to raise the level of play of those around him. Larkin has not shown he can be that player. For all of his snark, FS might actually have the right assessment of Larkin. This season will prove whether Larkin can take the next step of be just another part of a team of just parts.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 11:29 AM ET

damndog's avatar

https://theathletic.com/70403/2017/06/25/is-dylan-larkin-better-suited-on-the-wing-or-at-center/

Posted by damndog from The Eastside of Detroit on 08/10/17 at 12:01 PM ET

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Remember how that Datsyuk guy made a 4th liner into a 20 goal scorer?

Sure, we can compare the two. Datsyuk did indeed make a 4th liner into a temporary 20-goal scorer. In 10-12 years we can compare what Larkin is doing to what Datsyuk did after more than a decade in the league.

Interesting to note, though, that Datsyuk started his career with a dude named Brett Hull on his wing. When Larkin was allowed to be a centre, he spent significantly less time centring one of the all-time great goal scorers in the history of the league.

I think what it sounds like you are suggesting is that Larkin is made better only by being in a lineup with players already good.

What I’m suggesting is that, if he’s to be part of the future core of the team, he should be given the chance to centre a line that has better wingers than he had last year.

I mean hell, all last season we kept hearing about how Larkin’s assists were down.  Well yeah, because in order to record an assist, you need to have your linemate score a goal. He got so much grief for that and nobody wanted to acknowledge the lack of scoring wingers he had.

Larkin has not shown he can be that player.

Has he been given a real chance to? He was supposed to be a centre all year, but he got shuffled around for much of the year, hardly having consistent linemates.

Maybe give him a chance with some talent on his wings and see what happens.

There are very “big” differences between Kessel’s game and Larkin’s.

I think Mantha’s probably closer to a Kessel-type player than Larkin.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 08/10/17 at 12:57 PM ET

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I think Mantha’s probably closer to a Kessel-type player than Larkin.

Absolutely agree that this is a better comparison.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 08/10/17 at 01:57 PM ET

I agree that time will tell which is why I said this season is when we should see what Larkin can or can’t do. With Z’s decline eminent and with the selection of Rasmussen (as a 2nd line center - at best) it’s up to Larkin to fill the role of #1 Center (be part of the future).

I am doubtful in his ability to do it. Last season, he should have shown an aptitude to adjust his game. by the end of the season the only thing he was doing that was new was carelessly throwing his body into opposing players - likely out of frustration. He continued to rely, and fail, with rushing up the wing, circling behind the net and exiting along the far side boards - not shooting nor passing. this was his MO last season, the start of his 2nd season and it sure seemed it was still entrenched by the end of the season.

Larkin needs to grow his game beyond raw speed. he needs to add a second dimension to his game, like agility or power. He will never be anywhere near Datsyuk’s skill level, but he should be better then Nielsen by the end of this season. If not, then I would wager he will be a good part to the team, but not a catalyst which is what the wings lack beyond Z.

sure it’s helpful to have a line mate of great caliber, but to suggest Hull made Dats’ career is downplaying his skill and drive. Dats was a dynamic player with agility and skill that allowed him to keep defenders guessing. Larkin should be focusing on moving his game to this level of dynamism and not worried about who will be on his wing making him look good. I would wager Dats would have still been just as good without having Hull on his wing early in his career. Even then his skill level was far superior to what Larkin exhibits now and he would have still been puck handling around and through defenders with Devereaux & Gilchrist on his wings.

the only reason I bring Dats into this discussion is not because he had good wings to play with, but that Dats was able to make due with what he was given. this is what a great player does. they turn the junk around them into assets. Larkin, to be a #1 center, should strive for this.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 02:30 PM ET

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the only reason I bring Dats into this discussion is not because he had good wings to play with, but that Dats was able to make due with what he was given. this is what a great player does. they turn the junk around them into assets. Larkin, to be a #1 center, should strive for this.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 03:30 PM ET

Datysuk played with an extremely slow and one-dimensional Brett Hull and a Boyd Devereaux. I would not exactly call that surrounding him with elite talent. But Datsyuk made both players better, even as a rookie. Devereux had a career-high 9 goals. The next season Datsyuk moved up the line up and Devereux quickly fell to 3 goals. So I’m a little tired of this argument that Larkin needs elite talent to succeed. Elite centremen, even at a young age, help make the players around them better. And this is where Larkin is failing. He’s trying hard. But he’s not making players better. Other young centers do. A guy like Sean Monahan is an example, not a stud like McDavid or Matthews, but Monahan makes players better and has done so from day 1. Barkov makes linemates better. Kuznetsov makes people better. Larkin seems more like a complimentary piece…a JT Miller, a Bjugstad, a Fabbri. Nothing elite to see.

Posted by fatsavage on 08/10/17 at 02:39 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

He has a good attitude, works hard, should be a center and a dumbass coach that seems to play Larkin where he has little chance of succeeding

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 08/10/17 at 04:31 PM ET

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Datysuk played with an extremely slow and one-dimensional Brett Hull and a Boyd Devereaux. I would not exactly call that surrounding him with elite talent.

nor would I. nor did I.

But Datsyuk made both players better

yes. exactly my point. thanks for agreeing.

So I’m a little tired of this argument that Larkin needs elite talent to succeed.

I wondering if you are following along very well.

Elite centremen, even at a young age, help make the players around them better. And this is where Larkin is failing.

i’ve already said this too. thanks for agreeing.

Larkin seems more like a complimentary piece

I pretty much agreed with you when you said it the first time.


Thanks for showing I am not alone on this opinion.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 08/10/17 at 06:26 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

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