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Detroit Red Wings sign captain Dylan Larkin to eight-year, $69.6 million contract

Dylan Larkin’s importance to the Detroit Red Wings has been cemented with an extension that secures his services through the 2030-31 season and avoids any talk of unrestricted free agency.

The 26-year-old forward signed an eight-year extension Wednesday, two days before the NHL trade deadline. It's the maximum length possible for a team signing its own player, and carries an average annual value of $8.7 million. Larkin leads the Wings in goals (22), assists (35) and points (57).

It's the third time over the past month that general manager Steve Yzerman has extended a pending unrestricted free agent, following a three-year, $10.2 million contract for defenseman Jake Walman, and a two-year, $6 million contract for defenseman Olli Määttä.

Red Wings center Dylan Larkin looks on during the first period on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Little Caesars Arena.
Red Wings center Dylan Larkin looks on during the first period on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Little Caesars Arena.

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Larkin, from Waterford, was in the last season of the five-year, $30.5 million deal that began in 2018. The salary breakdown on his new deal is $10 million in year one, $11 million in year two, $10 million in year three, $8 million each in years four, five and six, $7.5 million in year seven and $7.1 million in year eight.

It was former general manager Ken Holland who signed him to that deal, and who drafted Larkin at No. 15 in 2014.

Larkin’s appeal in his draft year was obvious: The Michigan native was a standout with the USNTDP program, where he had 82 points in 86 games with the USHL and U18 squad in his draft year. Larkin starred one season at Michigan, producing 47 points in 35 games, then turned pro and made the Wings out of training camp in 2015. Larkin thrived as a rookie playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, recording 20 goals. Larkin’s endured growing pains his second year, recording just 32 points, but he rebounded in 2017-18 with 63 points.

All-Star honorsDetroit Red Wings' Dylan Larkin has been to NHL showcase three times in his career

Larkin’s role expanded with Zetterberg’s departure in 2018. He recorded his first 30-goal season in 2018-19, and his second this past season. Larkin has 147 goals and 211 assists in 504 games.

Yzerman named Larkin captain in January 2021, a week before the pandemic-delayed start of the season. It was an otherwise forgettable season for Larkin, who recorded just nine goals and was forced to miss the last few weeks after a scary injury. During a faceoff, Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn shoved his stick into Larkin’s spine, leading to Larkin being hospitalized over night. Larkin avoided surgery, but later said it was a challenging recovery.

When he was hit from behind in last season’s opening game, Larkin retaliated by cold-cocking Mathieu Joseph, leading to a one-game suspension. Larkin’s season was cut short again when he underwent core surgery in April.

Larkin led the Wings last season with 69 points in 71 games.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings sign Dylan Larkin to 8-year, $69.6 million contract