Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin talks about contract negotiations. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit – The calendar has crawled into August, training camp is a little over six weeks away, but Dylan Larkin isn’t concerned.
Larkin is a restricted free agent, and still without a new contract, although indications are he and the Red Wings are close to a long-term deal.
“A lot of talking and negotiating; it’s a bit of a process,” said Larkin, who was a guest instructor Thursday at the Red Wings’ youth camp at Little Caesars Arena. “It’s back and forth thinking, and everything is definitely a process, (but) you can’t sit by your phone all summer, you still have to train and work out and have fun, go on trips.
“I’m learning the business side of it, but I feel pretty confident that something will get done before training camp. No worries about it.”
It is expected that Larkin, 22, will sign a five- or six-year deal, probably in the neighborhood of $6 million per year. For the Red Wings to make that kind of commitment, Larkin would feel a sense of "honor."
“You have to definitely continue to work hard and want more for yourself and for the team, and the city and organization,” Larkin said. “I’m still not sure where it’s going to end up, but if they are willing to give a commitment (of that kind), it’s going to be a pretty good honor.”
The Wings see Larkin – from Waterford, and who played in college at Michigan – as the key building block for the next core of players, something Larkin is excited about.
“We were the kids, now there’s even younger kids coming in, with myself, AA (Andreas Athanasiou), Mo (Anthony Mantha) and Tyler (Bertuzzi), it’s going to be competitive from within,” Larkin said. “But we do need to grasp that bigger role of being a leader, doing the right things, setting the example of hard work from day one of training camp and practice.
“We need to win games. We need to have that winning culture that our veterans have taught us and win games. Fans want it, we want it, and young kids want to come in and make an impact quick and there’s opportunity there.”
Larkin took a big step last season with a career-high 63 points and 47 assists (he scored 16 goals), while playing all 82 games.
He followed that up with a leading role for Team USA at the world championships, as the team won a bronze medal.
“I need to build on last year and improve, and be a big-time player,” Larkin said.
Larkin is optimistic the Wings can be “dangerous team” with the players they acquired this summer (forward Thomas Vanek, goalie Jonathan Bernier, and re-signing defenseman Mike Green) and the addition of rookies Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina.
“We’re going to be a dangerous team, our team is definitely improved,” Larkin said. “It’s exciting. For those guys (Rasmussen, Zadina), they definitely have to earn a spot, grab someone’s spot on the team. But if they help our team and make us a better team, everyone on our roster wants them to play.
“The thing about your rookie year, you come in and you’re fired up to play, you get real hot, and for our team to be successful, we need to have a great start. That’s huge.”
Larkin skated with Zadina shortly after the prized rookie was drafted in June. Larkin was impressed with Zadina's goal-scoring potential and playmaking ability.
“I told him it doesn’t really matter where you go (where he’s drafted), it’s about the right fit and for him, Detroit is a great fit,” Larkin said. “He’s the kind of player we need, and any team would want. It’s pretty cool, I guess, that he fell to us or we got a chance to grab him."