Detroit — Dylan Larkin, as expected, is staying with the Red Wings.
Larkin, the Wings’ captain, and the Wings agreed Wednesday to an-eight year contract extension worth $69.6 million ($8.7 million salary cap hit).
Larkin, 26, could have been one of the more highly sought-after unrestricted free agents on the market this summer.
But, given his roots and continually saying he couldn’t see himself in another uniform, Larkin wasn’t likely to leave.
Larkin is from Waterford and played at Michigan before being drafted in the first round of the 2014 Entry Draft (15th overall) by the Red Wings.
Larkin spoke about his passion for the state and city during last season’s end of season press conference.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be here, just finishing my seventh season and I really love being a Detroit Red Wing, and I love being the captain of the team and this team is going to do special things in the near future,” said Larkin last May. “I don’t really envision myself being anywhere else, but I also understand there’s a business side of hockey.
“I love being a Detroit Red Wing and I love the passion our fans brought to the rink this year. I love that we have a great group of young players and a great locker room that certainly has made the hard times much easier showing up to the rink and going to battle with good people.”
This season, Larkin leads the Wings with 22 goals, 35 assists and 57 points. Larkin played some of his best hockey will leading the Wings back into playoff contention in early February, with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) during a seven-game point-streak.
“I’ve been trying to just focus on playing,” said Larkin, just before the All-Star break. “There’s speculation of what is going on but there’s not really much going on. People are saying stuff but it’s not really truthful.”
Coach Derek Lalonde, in his first season with Larkin, has spoken glowingly of the leadership Larkin brings to the locker room, as well as Larkin’s development on the ice as a two-way center, being a force defensively as well as the offensive end.
“I like Dylan the player, like Dylan the human being,” Lalonde said. “Just like everyone else, we’re trying to grow our game, we’re managing our game and he’s done that. You guys have seen him a lot, and analytically his turnovers are down, he manages his game better, his underlying number are better.
“I’m not worried about him with the puck. We’ve grown a little bit in a lot of areas and he’s been a driving force of it.”
With Larkin signed, a big item in general manager Steve Yzerman’s to-do list, Yzerman now turns his attention toward Friday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Yzerman is expected to speak with the media after Friday’s trade deadline. Larkin will talk after Thursday’s morning skate. The Wings had a scheduled day off Wednesday.
An interesting piece now for Yzerman is Tyler Bertuzzi, who can be a free agent this summer. There’s been little reported progress between the two sides on a contract extension, fueling speculation Bertuzzi could be dealt by Friday rather than risk losing him for nothing on July 1 when free agents can sign elsewhere.
With the Wings on a three-game losing streak and slipping further from playoff contention, there’s also talk Yzerman could expand further and deal prospective free agents such as Pius Suter and Oskar Sundqvist in an effort to add draft picks.