He may not be the leading rookie scorer, but Dylan Larkin is making a great case for the Calder Trophy. The 19-year-old scored the game-winning goal against Buffalo, but it was his brilliant pass to Henrik Zetterberg that stood out Friday night.
Dylan Larkin may not be the leading rookie scorer, but the Red Wings freshman is making more than a fair case to take home rookie of the year honors.
Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Larkin was all over the ice, as he has been all season for Detroit. The Red Wings dominated the contest through two periods, but the game remained scoreless until Larkin notched the game’s opening goal eight minutes into the third frame after collecting a loose puck to the left of Buffalo Sabres netminder Robin Lehner. The goal was an important one — the game-winner — but Larkin’s best piece of work came on the Red Wings’ insurance goal.
Five minutes after he opened the scoring, Larkin made a spectacular play to find a seam in the Sabres defense and thread a perfect pass onto the tape of Henrik Zetterberg, which the Red Wings captain made no mistake on:
Larkin’s pass is the type of play you’d expect from a savvy veteran player, not a 19-year-old in his first full season in the league. But Larkin has impressed all season long. Scoring aside, Larkin has been good in the two-way game and has been one of the most effective Red Wings forwards by a good margin.
While he does start a healthy percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone — 40.1 percent, per Puckalytics — Larkin’s 70.8 goals for percentage is remarkable. That means for every 10 goals scored at even strength while Larkin is on the ice, seven have been for the Red Wings. Of players that have played 500 minutes at 5-on-5, only Joe Thornton and Tyler Toffoli have a better goals for percentage. Both are tied at 72.3 percent.
Through 46 games, Larkin has the most goals of any Red Wing with 15, but he shares the scoring lead with Zetterberg at 32 points. To top it off, Larkin has five game-winning goals, and all but two of his points have come at even strength.