Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin is one of the biggest talking points at National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Weekend, and not necessarily because of his performance on the ice.
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The 26-year-old center will become an unrestricted free agent next summer unless he signs a new contract with his team by then. Even if he says he’s staying in Michigan, money remains the war veins in the bargaining game, and the hockey player involved must find his account if the Wings are to settle the file the right way. Larkin is a native of that state and has signed a five-year, $30.5 million deal.
“I kept repeating it. I insist and sign: I see myself as a Red Wing. Yes, there are contractual talks to be held and that’s all I’m going to say. This is the first time I have found myself in this situation and I very much doubt that the talks will go smoothly before they conclude,” he told NHL.com on Thursday.
In the eyes of many, Detroit cannot do without its first-round pick, 15th overall in the 2014 draft. It has 401 points in 551 games since its debut in the 2015-2016 NHL. His accomplishment includes 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points in 47 games this season. If the Wings are to be successful over the long term, sooner or later the reinstatement of Larkin, their key leader, must be formalized. In fact, it would be very difficult for them to replace a popular captain in the dressing room.
“I don’t take my role lightly. I’m proud of how I handle it. There have been difficult days and difficult campaigns, but I’m happy to be able to play, he explained. I prepare and work hard to win hockey games. That’s our goal. I want to develop in a good formation and I think we have the guys to do that. It is a blessing for me to focus on this goal. Leave the other bet [le contrat] will eventually take care of itself.”
Despite that optimism, the Wings still have some work to do to secure their first playoff qualification since 2016.