Just one week after Dylan Larkin was drafted 15th overall by the Red Wings, Jiri Fischer, Detroit’s Director of Player Development, watched Larkin compete against the organization’s top prospects and invitees at development camp.
And he liked what he saw.
"With Dylan, it’s his tenaciousness, it’s his competitiveness, it’s his skating ability to cut to the net and still go after the puck," Fischer said. "He’s a hockey player, he wants to do well and there’s no lost pucks on the ice, he goes after everything.
"Being a center, his tenaciousness and his ability to cover the ice with speed, it’s outstanding."
Larkin, who is committed to play at the University of Michigan, became the first Big Ten player to be drafted in the first round.
He had 17 goals and nine assists in 26 games for the U.S. National Under-18 team last season, improving from the seven goals and seven assists he recorded in 27 games during the 2012-13 season.
"He’s somebody who really seems to be serious in his approach, wants to be a player, wants to get better," said Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. "He also showed some real highly competitive nature which I think is a great thing."
Blashill, who was born in Sault Ste. Marie, knows how exciting it is for anyone, let alone a Michigan native, to be part of the Red Wings organization.
"For him to be a player in that scenario and to be a first-round pick and be drafted by the Red Wings…I was in the Red Wings’ suite at the draft and the family came up and I can tell you, they were ecstatic to be part of the Red Wings organization," Blashill said.
"I think lots of people are anytime you’re drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, but especially somebody that grew up in the Detroit area."
Larkin, a native of Waterford, Mich., couldn’t agree more.
"Obviously my mom and dad get to see my play and that’s cool for them," Larkin said. "It’s kind of cool to set a path for the kids growing up like (Justin) Abdelkader did for hockey in west Michigan. It’s kind of a big thing now and kids are kind of noticing who I am and hopefully they follow my path."
But he knows that there is plenty of pressure that comes along with being drafted by his hometown team.
"Yeah, there is but it’s all good," Larkin said. "It’s something that I wanted. I don’t feel pressure from other people. I feel like people are rooting me and that’s nice to see."