It’s been an eventful few weeks for Detroit Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin.
First, he suited up for 10 games for the United States at the World Championship in Czech Republic, helping the team capture a bronze medal at the tournament. Then he decided to leave the NCAA’s Michigan Wolverines to turn pro, signing a three-year, entry-level deal with the Red Wings. Now, he’s on his way to join the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins as they get set to take on the Utica Comets in the Western Conference final.
Drafted in the first round, 15th overall by the Red Wings in 2014, Larkin isn’t just one of the top prospects for Detroit, he’s one of the top 10 in the league. In The Hockey News’ Future Watch issue, scouts ranked Larkin as the 10th best prospect in the league and he has been a standout everywhere he’s played.
In 26 games with the US National Team Development Program, Larkin posted nine goals and 26 points in 2013-14. This past season at Michigan, Larkin scored 15 goals and 47 points in 35 games. Even at the World Junior Championship, Larkin was brilliant, scoring five goals and seven points in five games.
Heading to the Griffins will give Larkin a shot at adjusting to the pro game with the possibility that he could be back in the AHL next season should he not make the Red Wings out of training camp. With Grand Rapids in the Western Conference final for the second time in three seasons – and chasing their second Calder Cup in three years – Larkin could be a difference-maker should he adjust quickly to the pro game.
Though he only scored one point – an assist – in 10 games at the World Championship, he was given quality ice time and even used on the penalty kill, a big responsibility for a young player at a men’s tournament.
The 18-year-old already has the makings of a player who could be heading to the NHL next season, a rarity for players in the Red Wings system. But with the skillset Larkin has, there’s little doubt he’d be able to handle the rigors of NHL duty, it’s just a matter of him getting his shot.
If nothing else, Larkin will suit up for a Griffins club coached by Jeff Blashill, who is regarded as the most likely successor to Mike Babcock as coach of the Red Wings. If Larkin can show something in his short stint in the AHL, there’s no telling how far it could go for him in 2015-16.