Today, Detroit Red Wings inked center Dylan Larkin to a five-year deal worth $30.5 million. This contract begs the question of whether or not Nick Schmaltz could demand that kind of money when he becomes a free agent next season.
Dylan Larkin, a center from Waterford, Michigan, was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings back in 2014 in the first round, 15th overall. He’s played a major role for the Wings over the past three seasons and they clearly value him as part of their future. You don’t need to look much further than his new five-year contract earning him $6.1 million a year.
Because Nick Schmaltz will become an RFA next season, Larkin’s deal has raised conversation amongst Blackhawks fans about whether or not he could earn similar money next year.
Schmaltz Versus Larkin Comparison
Obviously, no two players are exactly the same (though the Blackhawks probably need to hear that again given how many “The Next Andrew Shaw”s they’ve tried to create). That being said, there’s a fair amount of parallels to be drawn between Larkin and Schmaltz.
Each are 22 years old, however Larkin has been in the league an extra year. Dylan looks primed to take over as the Wings permanent No. 1 center of the future as Henrik Zetterberg is nearing the end of his career. Likewise, the hope is that Schmaltz will be moving up into the No. 1 slot in the near future as well. The move would allow Toews to take on a different role which would (hopefully) prolong his career and efficiency.
Additionally, Larkin looks as if he’s ready to take over a leadership role for Detroit. With his new contract, he’s now the highest paid player on the Wings’ roster. It’s deserving, as not only did he lead the team in points last season, but he’s also began to take over as a real leader on and off the ice.
On the subject, he told The Detroit News, “The leadership part is natural. I don’t try to be a person I’m not,” said Larkin. “As the years have gone on, I’ve learned a ton and I’m more mature. I’ve grown up in the leadership part and I’ve learned from some of the best leaders in the game in Henrik Zetterberg, (Niklas) Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, (Justin) Abdelkader and Trevor Daley.”
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It’s apparent that Dylan is taking notes from fellow leaders on his squad. He isn’t alone in that, either. Schmaltz is looking as if he could earn himself a leadership role down the road. Additionally, he gave the Chicago Sun-Times a similar quote in regards to that possibility.
“Those older guys you look up to so much,” said Nick. “You don’t want to — I don’t want to say steal their show — but you respect those guys so much that they’ve done such a good job of leading and taking care of the young guys. But at a certain point, the younger guys coming up need to take a step in the leadership role. Whether it’s by leading with your play or saying a few things on the bench or in the locker room. As a young group, we can definitely step up and add some leadership.”
Schmaltz could very well be the one to step up.