Dylan Larkin to leave Michigan, join Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Dylan Larkin was drafted by the Red Wings in the first round in 2014.

Detroit – Either way, the Red Wings felt Dylan Larkin was going to be fine – staying at Michigan or turning pro and joining Detroit's organization.

Larkin, the Red Wings' first-round pick last June, No. 15 overall, chose the Red Wings Thursday, signing a three-year entry-level contract beginning next season.

But Larkin also signed an amateur tryout, enabling him to join the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins start the AHL Western Conference finals against the Utica (N.Y.) Comets on Sunday.

"What was impressive during this process was the time Dylan took to process all of his information and come to a decision," said Ryan Martin, the Red Wings' assistant general manager. "He spoke with members of our organization, people at Michigan, took all the information, and came to a decision.

"We felt good about either option for Dylan. He was in a great situation at Michigan with a lot of things to achieve, and also we feel good about our development of young players in our organization."

Larkin, 18, a Waterford native, competed in the recent men's world championships in Prague, where he had one assist while playing in all 10 games for the bronze-medal winning USA team. He was the second-youngest player on the roster.

"He fared very well," Martin said. "He was competing against players who were in the NHL just a month before, and did real well."

Larkin had seven points (five goals, two assists) in five games at the world junior championships in January, playing against his own age group.

Dylan Larkin

A 6-foot, 172-pound center, Larkin had 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists) in 35 games at Michigan this past season as a freshman.

"My year at Michigan has been the best year of my life, the most fun year of hockey I've ever had," Larkin said. "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."

Larkin ranked 11th nationally in scoring, second among freshman behind only Boston University's Jack Eichel, who probably will be the second overall pick in next month's entry draft.

Larkin projects as a first- or second-line scoring center. He isn't shy about taking the puck to the net and he is a good playmaker.

"Definitely a top-six center who can play in all situations," Martin said.

Larkin will get tested early, jumping into the AHL playoffs this weekend.

"This will be a great opportunity and challenge for Dylan," Martin said.

During his only season at Michigan, Larkin was named first-team All-Big Ten -- as well as conference Freshman of the Year -- and second-team All-American.

"Dylan proved to be one of most talented players in college hockey," said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. "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."

Western Conference Finals

Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Utica Comets

(Games 5-7 if necessary. Grand Rapids home games at Van Andel Arena.)

Game 1: Sun., May 24 – at Utica, 7:00

Game 2: Mon., May 25 – at Utica, 7:00

Game 3: Thu., May 28 – at Grand Rapids, 7:00

Game 4: Fri., May 29 – at Grand Rapids, 7:00

Game 5: Sun., May 31 – at Grand Rapids, 5:00

Game 6: Tue., June 2 – at Utica, 7:00

Game 7: Wed., June 3 – at Utica, 7:00