Hockey World Blog

Is All Star Dylan Larkin a contender for the Calder Trophy?

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The Detroit Red Wings haven’t had a player win Rookie of the Year honors since the 1964-65 season when goaltender Roger Crozier won.

That’s pretty crazy to think about when you consider that they drafted and fostered future Hall of Fame talents like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Federov in the 80s, as well as players like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in the late 90s.

Could Dylan Larkin buck the trend and be the Red Wings’ first Rookie of the Year in 50+ years?

Entering the season, chances were slim to none. The Calder Trophy was practically already promised to Connor McDavid, who was heralded as a “generational talent.” And had McDavid not suffered a broken clavicle that kept him sidelined for the better part of three months, he likely would have won, but his injury opened the door for someone else to potentially take his place.

Entering All Star Weekend, the mid-way point of the NHL season, Larkin will be the youngest player, the only Red Wing, and the only rookie at the event. He’s currently third in overall rookie scoring with 33 points and leads all NHL players with a plus-minus ranking of 24.

Are those numbers good enough to get him Rookie of the Year honors?

His biggest competition likely comes from Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, Arizona’s Max Domi, and, of course, McDavid—who could still make a case for himself with a strong second-half showing in Edmonton.

Working against Larkin is the fact that he arguable has a better supporting cast than his competitors. It’s the same for Panarin. That’s not necessarily the case for Eichel or Domi.

Eichel and Panarin are also getting more playing time, averaging about two minutes more per game than Larkin. Domi actually averages about 40 second less.

What’s toughest to quantify is how valuable each player has been to his respective team’s overall success. For instance, if the Coyotes end up making the playoffs, Domi’s individual contributions will have been a big part of that success. Chicago lost a lot of talent in the offseason and needed young players to step up this season—and Panarin has in a big way.

In that way, it’s easy to make the case that Detroit could be in a much different position if not for Larkin. As a team that has come out on the positive side of several one-goal games, Larkin’s contributions (and team-leading 15 goals) have had a significant impact on the team’s standings.

The truth is, McDavid’s injury didn’t discount him from the rookie race, it just opened the doors for other candidates—including Larkin. And with a clean slate, it’s anyone’s honor to grab in the second half of the season. Despite Larkin’s supporting cast in Detroit, his contributions to the team have made him tough to count out as a front runner.

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