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The Red Wings get their 'Michigan' man

Dylan Larkin is thrilled to be picked by hometown team

Friday, 06.27.2014 / 11:29 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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The Red Wings get their \'Michigan\' man
Waterford native Dylan Larkin meets Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after Detroit made the 17-year-old center the No. 15 overall pick in Friday's NHL draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA – Draft day was made extra special for a soon-to-be Michigan man.

With the No. 15 pick in the NHL draft Friday night, the Red Wings selected Waterford native Dylan Larkin, who played the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor.

“It’s special. It’s something my family and myself will remember for a while,” said Larkin, about being picked by his hometown team. “I was pretty nervous but just hearing your name is a relief.

“This is the place I wanted to be. I’m happy with the result.”

Ultimately, Larkin would have been fine with whatever team selected him, but Red Wings team officials were sweating it out after Toronto picked at No. 9.

“From (No.) 10 on I was sweating profusely,” said Tyler Wright, the Wings director of amateur scouting. “We had some options to maybe go back and pick up a second (round pick), but I mean we had targeted him early. If he was there and we thought there was a slim chance we would have to step up and make the pick. You get pretty excited because you think you’ve got a chance and all it takes is one team and fortunately for us he was the guy that we targeted and he fell to us. We’re pretty excited.”

The 17-year-old Larkin is the second American, and the first from Michigan, chosen in the first round by the Red Wings. Goalie Tom McCollum, of Amhurst, N.Y. (2008), was the last American pick in the first round by Detroit.

The first-round pick was Detroit’s highest in 23 years when they selected forward Martin Lapointe with the No. 10 overall pick in 1991.

Larkin is widely considered a smart, skilled centerman with good leadership qualities. Though he’s still a bit of a project, the Red Wings, who are generally very patient with their prospects, like that he plays a 200-feet game.

Larkin was among the U.S. team’s leading scorers last season, finishing second in goals (31), fourth in points (56) in 60 games.

Wright is reluctant to compare the team’s newest prospect to any current NHL centers, though he appreciates Larkin’s elite skating ability and his passion for the sport.

“I love the way he skates,” Wright said. “This guy’s the ultimate competitor, I mean, he plays on the second line on a team that maybe with (Alex) Tuch and (Sonny) Milano did a lot of the scoring, nothing against some of his linemates, but he had some of the lesser talented guys to play with and he drove that bus. He separated his shoulder at the World Championships and you could tell, and he scores the game-winning goal. There’s just a lot of thing about him. Character and passion for me are a lot of things and not only does he have those things he’s a good hockey player.”

Larkin learned plenty about the game and about himself during his two years with the U.S. program but it’s time to move on, he said.

“I came in as a kid and left as a young man, physically, mentally, all areas,” Larkin said. “They give you resources and it’s up to the players how much you want to use them. I feel like I used them and became a well-rounded young man.”

Larkin has been Michigan based through and through. He played youth hockey in the Belle Tire organization in metro Detroit, where he was coached for a while by former Red Wings forward Doug Brown. He played for the U.S. U-18 team, graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor and attended Waterford Mott High for his freshman and sophomore academic years. In the fall, he will attend the University of Michigan where he will play for another former Red Wings forward, Wolverines legendary coach Red Berenson.

“Even coach (Mike) Babcock said you’re in a good spot with Red Berenson,” Larkin said. “They’re good friends. It’ll be a good time there.”

But with the Red Wings just up the road from the U-M campus, Larkin knows his development will be paramount to any future success in the NHL.

“I’m looking to improve on my strength,” Larkin said. “To play at the next level, even in college, you got to be strong. It’s important to get in the gym and spend time on my body and nutrition.”

The draft wraps up Saturday with rounds two through seven, beginning at 10 a.m. EST, at Wells Fargo Center. Barring any trades, the Red Wings will select six more prospects beginning with the No. 76 overall pick in the third round. They also have picks at No. 106 (fourth round), No. 136 (fifth), No. 166 (sixth) and Nos. 196 and 201 (seventh).

The Red Wings surrendered the No. 46 pick to Nashville, completing last season’s trade deadline deal that brought veteran center David Legwand to Detroit and sent prospect Calle Jarnkrok to the Predators.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80