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Draft Prospect Dylan Larkin Plays Like A Pro

by Ryan Simmons / Colorado Avalanche is profiling some draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia on June 27-28. First up is Michigan native Dylan Larkin, the No. 17-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings.

Graded as an 'A' prospect by NHL Central Scouting, Dylan Larkin will bring a well-rounded game to whichever team selects him in this year's NHL Draft.

Dylan Larkin

Larkin is a projected mid- to late-first-round selection and gained the attention of league scouts last season while playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He hasn’t withered with the additional attention, though. In fact, he has thrived.

“[You] just continue playing and working hard to get better every day,” Larkin says about maintaining focus when he knows scouts are watching. “You get so caught up in the game and the procedure and strategies, it doesn’t really matter by puck drop.”

A simple scouting report on Larkin: "… He just looks like a pro." Or at least that’s the opinion of Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations. He said as much in September while speaking with USA Today. NHL Central Scouting agrees with Johannson's assessment and has Larkin rated as the 17th best North American skater in its final rankings.

Larkin, a Waterford, Mich., native and a University of Michigan commit, has been a member of the U.S. NTDP for the last two seasons. As a member of the USA Hockey program he has been able to play in the United States Hockey League and various international competitions while preserving his college eligibility.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound win was a solid contributor in his first season with the U.S. NTDP in 2012-13, tallying 34 points in 61 games between the USHL and in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Quebec, where he helped the U.S. to a bronze medal.

Larkin showed he had developed more offensive skills this past season, as he tallied 56 points (31 goals and 25 assists) in 60 games. He was an assistant captain for the U.S. National Team at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship and scored a pivotal goal in the championship game win.

"What you saw last year was a guy willing to play in the heavy areas, the demanding areas, but he was not quite ready," said Craig Button, a former NHL general manager and current draft analyst for TSN, to USA Today last September. "Now this year, not only is he ready, but he's assertive. He's able to control and dominate in those areas."

The assertiveness is no accident. He has made adjustments to his game by spending more time on the ice, working on his craft.

“I’ve been working on my shot a lot and trying to position myself to take shots and pick corners,” Larkin told the website Future Considerations in March.

The hard work paid off for Larkin, and it led to a breakout offensive year.

He set the tone for the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh last September when he opened the scoring early in the second period with a five-hole shot past his U.S. NTDP teammate Ed Minney. Larkin’s team took a 5-2 victory, and Larkin added an assist on the game-winning goal.

After the game Larkin elaborated on what he thought scouts might have taken away from his play against the best the United States has to offer: “I feel that they learned that I compete in all stages, you could say. I love to compete and work hard.”

Button agreed with Larkin’s self-assessment.

“When you look at him from last year to this year, you see not only the physical development, but the confidence that comes with it,” he said.

That confidence has not deterred the 17-year-old prospect from knowing he can always improve. His ability to create offense for himself and his teammates makes him an intriguing prospect.

“I’m still working on getting stronger,” Larkin said. “You can always get stronger, and it’ll help me a lot, moving forward with my game.”

Larkin describes himself as a “skilled power forward,” and NHL Central Scouting’s David Gregory gives a pretty accurate description of a “skilled power forward” when talking about Larkin.

"He skates well and has great closing speed; uses his body well,” Gregory said. “He has skill but is not afraid of using physical play for puck possession.”

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