The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman penned an article discussing “Five players not named Jack Eichel who could help the Rangers,” and she mentions Dylan Larkin as a possible Rangers trade target.
Larkin, the Red Wings’ captain, probably isn’t on the market, but Goldman surmises that his age (25) not lining up with the Wings’ window of contention, combined with the fact that he’s coming off a rough season production-wise, make him an appealing player.
And it’s just as weird to type those words as it is to read them. Here’s a chunk of Goldman’s statistically-driven analysis of Larkin’s game:
Quality of teammates, along with systems and coaching, likely are at the root of his dip in play [last season]. With Larkin, at five-on-five, the Red Wings’ expected goal rate was 6 percent below average; they lacked net-front shots, which may be attributed to the center’s mainstay winger, Tyler Bertuzzi, missing most of the season — but they still created some scoring chances. Without him, though, their offense was a black hole, with their xG generation falling 20 percent below average.
Last season was one of Larkin’s worst shooting seasons, but there’s the potential to change that with a new team — especially if he were to skate alongside an elite playmaker in Artemi Panarin. What may have contributed to one of his worst shooting seasons — both in terms of shot volume and scoring — was a lack of high-danger passes preceding his shots. That would unquestionably change alongside Panarin. In a better position to shoot, the focus shifts to his finishing ability.
He could also match up with Chris Kreider’s speed and net-front play or Alexis Lafrenière’s vision and passing abilities.
Panarin has clicked well with right-handed centers, but his line has essentially only featured righties the past two years. Having another lefty in Larkin would give the offense more variety in handedness. That would be particularly handy on the first power-play unit.
Goldman continues (paywall); I know that anyone can be traded, but even in taking off my “fan” hat and putting on my “blogger/reporter’s” hat, reading Larkin getting talked up as a trade target is weird for me.