The Detroit Red Wings leading point-producer is now their highest paid player.
The Red Wings locked up 22-year-old center Dylan Larkin on a five-year deal worth $30.5 million on Friday. The deal has an annual average value of $6.1 million, some $16,667 more than Henrik Zetterberg makes to take the average annual value title.
Larkin had 16 goals and 47 assists last year, doubling his point total from the year previous after getting a nearly four-minute bump in ice time per game. Larkin is the best player on a team that came into the 2017-18 season as the oldest team in the NHL.
Larkin foreshadowed Friday’s signing earlier in the week.
“Something’s coming,” Larkin told Sportsnet. “I’ve told everyone I think it’ll be before training camp. It’s right there. I’m just waiting to iron out the details.”
Larkin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal in 2023.
Larkin is a player the Red Wings can build around as they work on rebuilding and leaving Jurassic Park behind. Larkin moved from the wing to center this past season, excelling in his new role as the team’s franchise center.
Larkin had 2.24 points/60 last season and had his best season in terms of Rel CF% at 2.25.
“His best years are ahead of him. Dylan brings a lot of determination and passion,” general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Friday.
The move leaves the Red Wings counting $3.2 million over the salary cap, which is set at $79.5 million for this coming season. A roster move will be necessary before the season begins. Teams are allowed to be over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason.
Johan Franzen is an LTIR candidate, however. He has a cap hit of nearly $4 million and hasn’t played in two years. Shedding his salary would put the Red Wings under, and they’ve made all their offseason signings with Larkin’s signature.
If not, the Red Wings will have to shed salary through a trade.
Larkin’s deal should make things interesting across the border in Toronto. William Nylander has yet to sign with the Maple Leafs. He’s a restricted free agent and compares well with Larkin.
The Leafs are facing a massive cap crunch next season and Nylander now has a template for his next deal.
Sam Reinhart, also an unsigned RFA, will also benefit from Larkin’s deal.