The Detroit Red Wings looked to their own back yard when they made their highest draft choice in 23 years on Friday night in Philadelphia.
The Red Wings selected University of Michigan-bound forward Dylan Larkin from Waterford, Mich., with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, making him their highest choice since Martin Lapointe went 10th in 1991.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center/winger finished fourth in scoring on the U.S. development program’s under-18 team this past season, notching 31 goals and 25 assists for 56 points in 60 games. He won gold as a second-line center with Team USA at the IIHF world under-18 championship in April.
“Think of Darren Helm but better scoring ability,” said TSN scout Craig Button. “He’s got that type of disruptive speed. He comes at you defensively. He comes at you offensively. He played (hurt) at the (world) U-18 tournament where USA won gold and he just kept playing through it. He’s got guts, lots of skill, lots of speed.”
Larkin was rated 17th among North Americans by Central Scouting, 14th overall by The Hockey News and 12th by Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca.
“I love Dylan Larkin,” one scout told The Hockey News. “Guaranteed player, heart-and-soul kid. He’ll wear a letter on his jersey some day. Plays with pace and he’s a powerful skater. You might only get a third-liner, but his work ethic is great. NHL coaches are going to love him.”
Button, however, highlighted Larkin’s offense: “You can play defense but they don’t tell you not to score — and Dylan Larkin scores.”
Following is a breakdown of Detroit’s selections. RWC will have pick-by-pick features at the conclusion of the draft as well as individual prospect profiles.
1-15. C Dylan Larkin, 6-1, 190, 60-31-25-56-56, U.S. under-18 team (USHL). See above.
3-63. C Dominic Turgeon, 6-2, 196, 65-10-21-31-31, Portland (WHL). The Red Wings traded pick No. 75 and a 2015 third-rounder to get the No. 63 overall pick used on Turgeron. Although his father, Pierre, scored more than 1,300 points in the NHL, Turgeon — who posted modest numbers with WHL powerhouse Portland — projects as more of a third-line center with tremendous hockey sense. His skating needs to improve.
“I put him in a David Legwand (class) of player,” said NHL Network analyst Dave Reid. “He’s got the smarts, he’s got the ability, but he’s not overly talented with the finish. It’s a matter of getting his feet moving. He’s probably suited for that third-line role.”
Added TSN scout Craig Button: “He’s not like his father. He’s more of a big, get-in-your-way type of centerman. He’s not an elite offensive player, but he’s a good, strong player.”
4-106. C Christoffer Ehn, 6-3, 181, 45-4-7-11-14, Frolunda (Swe-J20). Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, Ehn has excellent size and is a defensive-minded center. His numbers at the Swedish J-20 SuperElit level certainly don’t jump off the page, but he showed enough maturity to appear in two Swedish Hockey League games for Frolunda and he represented Sweden at the IIHF world under-18 championship in May, playing a depth role in a fourth-place finish. Central Scouting ranked him 89th among European skaters.
5-136. G Chase Perry, 6-2, 175, 15-12-6, 2.34 GAA, .905 Sv%, Wenatchee (NAHL). A rare pick out of the NAHL, Perry went 15-12-6 with three shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage with Wenatchee. He was ranked fourth among North American goaltenders at mid-season before dropping to eighth on the final list. Perry will play at the NCAA level at Colorado College starting next season, so he projects to add depth to the goaltending pipeline when he eventually turns pro three or four years down the road.
6-166. C Julius Vahatalo, 6-5, 191, 18-3-0-3-0, TPS Turku (FIN). Passed over in the 2013 draft, Vahatalo put injury problems behind him and posted big numbers at the Finnish Jr. A level — 18 goals among 39 points in 33 games — before graduating to the SM-Liiga level and scoring three times in 18 games. He showed good offensive skill at the junior level and instantly becomes one of the Red Wings’ biggest prospects.
7-196. C Axel Holmstrom, 6-0, 198, 33-15-23-38-12, Skelleftea (SWE-J20). Holmstrom ripped it up at the J-20 SuperElit level, recording 38 points in 33 games, and played four games at the Swedish Hockey League level with Skelleftea. He followed that up with an 11-point showing for the fourth-place Swedes at the IIHF world under-18 championship in April, leading the tournament with a plus-8 rating as a linemate of first-round pick William Nylander. He has no known relation to Tomas Holmstrom.
7-201. C Alexander Kadeykin, 6-3, 213, 54-8-15-23-24, plus-17, Mytischi (KHL). Passed over in the 2012 and 2013 drafts, Kadeykin already has a man’s frame at 20 years old and led his KHL team in scoring as a rookie. A good two-way center who works hard, Kadeykin is expected to play one more year in Russia before coming to North America.