Via a heads-up from Abel to Yzerman, NHL.com’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika spoke with Dylan Larkin at the Eastside Elite Hockey League All-Star Game last night, and Larkin told Cotsonika that he needs to step up during the upcoming season:
“I want to be the guy,” Larkin said. “I honestly don’t believe in No. 1 centers in the NHL [in terms of labels]. Who’s the No. 1 center in Toronto? Who’s the No. 1 center in Pittsburgh? You’ve got to have two centers. [But] I want to be the guy that’s out there whether we’re down by a goal and we need to score with a minute left or we’re up by a goal and taking that huge faceoff in your [defensive] zone. So just want to be looked at as that, like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have for so long in Detroit.”
The Red Wings need Larkin to become the guy. Datsyuk left for SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League after the 2015-16 season, the last of Detroit’s streak of 25 straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. Zetterberg turns 38 on Oct. 9 and has back problems. General manager Ken Holland has said he expects Zetterberg to play this season, but it is not certain.
Larkin turns 22 on Monday. A restricted free agent, he said there are no major issues in contract negotiations. He doesn’t feel like a veteran yet, even though he’s entering his fourth NHL season and the Red Wings will give opportunities to younger players, including forwards Michael Rasmussen, 19, and Filip Zadina, 18.
“We have one of the best veteran cores in the NHL of people and players,” Larkin said. “They’re special people, and they’re established. When I think of a veteran, I think of someone who’s paid their dues and been around and knows the ins and outs and have a lot of respect.”