By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on forward Taro Hirose.
It was pretty easy for the Detroit Red Wings to keep track of forward Taro Hirose throughout the 2018-19 season as he played his junior year at Michigan State.
Hirose, who turned 23 on June 30, was in Detroit's development camp in 2018 and scored a goal during the annual Red and White Game, which is held on the last day of camp.
During the season, Hirose did nothing to discourage the Wings' interest in him as he excelled for the Spartans and emerged as the Big Ten scoring champion.
Among Hirose's many postseason honors were being named First Team All-American, First Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
The Wings signed Hirose to a two-year entry-level contract on March 12.
That enabled Hirose to join the Wings for the remainder of the season and the left wing did not disappoint.
A mere week after signing, Hirose made his NHL debut at New York's fabled Madison Square Garden, playing on a line with center Frans Nielsen and wing Thomas Vanek, and quickly picked up his first NHL point.
At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Hirose might not be the biggest guy but he has already shown that he has a very high hockey IQ and the ability to make plays at the NHL level.
If he can continue to make those plays while keeping the mistakes to a minimum, Hirose has an excellent chance to make the Wings out of training camp this season.
50 -- Hirose led the NCAA with 50 points in 36 games. Penn State's Alex Limoges, who was a free-agent invitee at Detroit's development camp, had 50 points in 39 games. Hirose was the first Michigan State player to reach 50 points since the 2002-03 season when John-Michael Liles hit that mark.
35 -- Among Hirose's 50 points were 35 assists, which was second to Harvard defenseman Adam Fox's 36 assists.
34 -- Hirose tied Minnesota's Tyler Sheehy with 34 points to lead the Big Ten.
116 -- In his three seasons at Michigan State, Hirose finished with 116 points (33-83-116) in 106 games. He was just the 15th Spartan to reach the 100-point mark since 2000.
1 -- Hirose played in his first NHL game on March 19 at New York, a 3-2 victory over the Rangers. Hirose got his first NHL point in that game, assisting on Nielsen's first-period goal at 17:16. On March 31, Hirose got his first NHL goal in a 6-3 home win over the Boston Bruins. It proved to be the game-winner as Hirose scored at 1:25 of the third period, assisted by Andreas Athanasiou and Niklas Kronwall.
10 -- Hirose finished the season with 10 NHL games under his belt and the Wings won seven of those 10.
7 -- In all, Hirose had seven points (1-6-7) in his 10 games.
5 -- Amazingly, Hirose had an assist in each of his first five games with the Wings, four of which were wins.
Quotable: "Well certainly, you never know when guys come from college or from any level how they're going to do until they get to the level. You just don't know. I thought he did a really good job when he first got here. The last couple of games, I thought it wasn't as good as the previous games, because I think one of the best things he has at his disposal is he's able to create plays without tons of risk. At the end of the day, and I've said this tons, you judge players on their reward, positive plays vs. negative players and I thought he was creating lots of positives without any negatives. I thought at the end, the negatives started to build back up. I don't think he has to. He's a smart enough player to do that where he can be a real effective player. He's like everybody else. He's gonna have to get stronger and quicker. He's got a super good mind. He's got confidence to him. He looks like a guy that can help you win." -- Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "Ending my season at Michigan State to the next couple of days playing at Madison Square Garden was definitely surreal. Playing on the road you sort of get acclimated to everything, spend a lot of time on the road with the guys. I jumped right in, didn't have to think too much about it. When you're in warmups and see Sidney Crosby, that was sort of a wow moment. We played (Evgeni) Malkin and (Phil) Kessel and those guys and sort of seeing what those guys do a shift by shift basis, how effective they are, it was definitely something … there's a lot of good players and those guys take it to the next level." -- Hirose
Quotable III: "He did it game after game. He was really consistent. He's a smart player and he always looks to make plays. I think next year we're gonna need him to come in. We'll see what happens. If he plays that way, he's definitely a dark horse for the Calder. That might be blowing it out of the water, speaking too soon, but he did prove himself in a good test of how many games he did play. He loves to make plays and he's good with the puck." -- Dylan Larkin