The Detroit Red Wings nearly made the playoffs in 2024. However, they suffered a brutal slump in the latter months of the season that caused them to just miss out. Part of this slump was due to injuries sustained by captain Dylan Larkin. And, according to general manager Steve Yzerman, his captain was dealing with more pain than fans knew about.

Yzerman met with the media on Friday for his pre-NHL Draft press conference. Larkin came up in discussion as he was named to Team USA's World Championship roster earlier this offseason. However, he decided not to go due to an upper-body injury that required surgery to repair.

“He had an injury, an upper-body injury, that he was dealing with late in the season. At the end of the season, we do all of our testing and they get whatever scans and X-rays and things. He had to address that with, I don't want to call it minor surgery, but he had to have surgery,” Yzerman said, via the Detroit Free Press.

While news of a Larkin injury is sure to cause concern among the fan base, Yzerman provided a positive outlook. He refrained from calling the procedure a minor surgery. That said, the Red Wings general manager believes he will be ready for training camp before the 2024-25 NHL season.

Dylan Larkin is Red Wings' heart and soul

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates with the Red Wings bench after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh won 6-5 in overtime.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Detroit Lions are likely aware of the story around star pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson is a Michigan native who became a star at the University of Michigan. He was then drafted by his hometown team and is now leading them towards a potential championship. In this way, Larkin and Hutchinson are a lot alike.

Larkin is a native of Waterford Township, Michigan. He played collegiate hockey at the University of Michigan, earning All-Big Ten First Team and Second-Team All-American honors as a Wolverine. In the 2014 NHL Draft, Detroit selected the Michigan native with the 15th overall pick. He made his NHL debut with the team in the 2015-16 season.

Since then, Larkin has become a leader within the locker room. He succeeded Henrik Zetterberg as captain of the Red Wings in January 2021. He is a four-time 30+ goal scorer, and has scored 30+ goals in three of the last four seasons. Larkin is truly an important piece for Detroit moving forward, as evidence by the eight-year contract he signed with the team ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.

Detroit facing heightened expectations

The Red Wings didn't demand a playoff berth in the 2023-24 season. Steve Yzerman wanted to see progression in his team first and foremost. If they made the playoffs, that was simply a bonus. However, Detroit will face added pressure to make the playoffs in 2025. Especially since they came so close to doing so this year.

Yzerman admitted to not feeling completely satisfied with every move he's made since he's returned to Detroit. But he is doing everything he can to make the Red Wings a better hockey team. “We’re constantly looking at trying to get an advantage, whether it’s acquiring a player in a trade or do things, and that’s been challenging. Nobody wants to hear it; it just takes time,” he said, via

The Red Wings general manager also admitted that his team isn't quite where he wants them to be. That said, he hopes that players like Dylan Larkin become a core part of a future playoff window. And he hopes they remain just as competitive next season as they were this year. “I’m hopeful that we can compete for a playoff spot this year again,” Steve Yzerman said on Friday.