By @MichaelCaples –
University of Michigan alum Aaron Ward reported it first, and now it has been confirmed by the Red Wings’ organization – Dylan Larkin’s ready to take the next step in his hockey career.
The Waterford native – Detroit’s first-round selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft – will be joining the Grand Rapids Griffins in time for their third-round playoff series against the Utica Comets, it was announced today.
The Detroit Red Wings officially announced the signing of Larkin to a three-year, entry-level contract at 3:30 p.m. With the signing, he also signed an amateur tryout with the Griffins to be available for their weekend playoff games.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) May 21, 2015
Per the Red Wings’ Bill Roose, Larkin’s entry-level contract will officially begin next season, hence the amateur tryout deal that makes him immediately eligible for the Griffins’ remainder of the AHL playoffs.
Larkin, a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, has continued to excel at every level of his hockey career, leading to his official jump from amateur to professional athlete today.
While the Wolverines’ season ended in March, Larkin won’t have much rust to knock off – he played for Team USA at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in the Czech Republic during the month of April. Skating against NHL-level competition, Larkin didn’t fill up the scoresheet, but he proved he could compete at that level.
“I’m impressed by how he plays the game as a young player who is making great strides,” said Team USA coach Todd Richards (Columbus Blue Jackets), via USAHockey.com. “For me as a coach, the more you watch him, the more you trust him. He’s a great skater, has speed and is a committed two-way player, who plays a 200-foot game.”
Larkin was named a second-team All-American following the conclusion of his freshman season with the Michigan Wolverines. He recorded 47 points in 35 NCAA games as a rookie, skating alongside Hobey Baker candidate Zach Hyman. Larkin was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the conference at the conclusion of the season.
“My year at Michigan has been the best year of my life, the most fun year of hockey I’ve ever had,” Larkin said via MGoBlue.com. “Going to one of the best universities in the world and having fun with my classmates, it will be tough missing out on what they’re going to accomplish. On the other note, I have a chance to live out the dream of my life, and I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a great opportunity. I really feel like I’m ready for this challenge.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said in the same release that he wasn’t surprised by the decision.
“In Dylan’s year with Michigan, he proved to be one of most talented players in college hockey,” Berenson said. “We knew this was a tough decision for Dylan, but we also anticipated that this might happen. I hope that Dylan continues on a path to graduate from the university while preparing for a long career in the National Hockey League.”
Larkin stood out on the international stage this season, as well, being named the NHL.com all-tournament team at the World Juniors in January.
A product of the Belle Tire youth hockey organization, Larkin was the highest drafted player by the Detroit Red Wings since they picked Martin LaPointe No. 10 overall in 1991.
“I’ve always been a fan,” Larkin said before stepping to the podium for his first media session as a member of the Red Wings at the draft in Philadelphia. “I grew up watching the Nick Lidstroms and the Yzermans and Drapers, it’s a good organization, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Larkin wears No. 19 after he was compared to Yzerman growing up – the Waterford native (whose family recently moved to Clarkston) was told so by former Red Wing Doug Brown, who coached him in youth hockey.
“Steve Yzerman, the captain, pretty much says it all, the way he led his team,” Larkin said at the draft. “He played a two-way game. Off the ice the way he acted, he was a true professional, a class guy.”
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) May 21, 2015
— Zach Werenski (@ZachWerenski) May 21, 2015
— Tyler Motte (@tmotte_14) May 21, 2015