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Larkin makes Wings' final roster

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Center  - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 1 | Pts: 4

Shots: 15 | +/-: 3
DETROIT Dylan Larkin did everything he needed to do to become the first teenager to crack the Red Wings’ opening-night roster in 25 years.

“I’d say his play had to be such that he grabbed the job,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think if he didn’t grab the job the easier thing to do would be to put him in (Grand Rapids) and see where we’re at and see how his play goes but we just felt – I specifically felt – that he makes us better.”

Speed, quickness and a very good scoring touch proved to be too much for the Red Wings’ coaches to overlook the Waterford, Mich., native, who passed several tests during training camp and throughout five preseason games that he appeared in. He produced three goals and four points, and along with follow rookie Andreas Athanasiou tied for the team lead for shots on goal with 15 each in the preseason.

“If a young guy makes our team better and is going to have the opportunity to play enough minutes to make our team better,” Blashill said, “then he was going to be on the team, whether that was him or somebody else. We feel like he’s earned a chance to play in a top-nine type of role, which is going to give him minutes to be successful. So as a result we made a decision to put him on the team.”

This Friday – when the Red Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena – Larkin will be the first 19-year-old to debut on opening night for the franchise since Mike Sillinger played in a 3-3 tie at New Jersey to begin the 1990-91 season.

Jiri Hudler is the last teenager to make his NHL debut for the Wings. The former Detroit forward did so on Dec. 17, 2003 – 18 days before his 20th birthday. 

As for which line Larkin will skate on, Blashill is leaning toward putting the rookie with captain Henrik Zetterberg and another Michigan native, Justin Abdelkader.

“That’s always day to say stuff,” Blashill said. “You never know, injuries and all, but what we’ve looked at is starting him with Z and Abby. That’s something we talked about but that could change come Friday night.”

Not only do Larkin’s skills make him a fit on the Wings’ roster, injuries also played a role in him making the team. The Wings currently have five players on injured reserve – Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Danny DeKeyser (foot), Alexey Marchenko (groin), Jakub Kindl (eye infection) and Darren Helm (shoulder).

Larkin spoke to media before he heard Monday’s good news. Obviously, once everyone is healthy, he knows there’s a chance he’ll be returned to Grand Rapids, which he said, is fine.

“To make it this far is quite an accomplishment,” he said.

Jimmy Howard

STARTING GOALIE: Blashill has decided which goalie will draw the starting assignment for Fridays’s season opener against the Leafs. But the Wings’ coach isn’t saying publicly yet as he hasn’t informed Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek of his decision.

“I think we have two really good ones, they played great in the preseason,” Blashill said. “I think that’s the No. 1 reason we had the success we had, because our goalies were great and they’re both going to get opportunities to play for sure. We’ll release that later in the week.”

Both goalies will get their share of the workload, especially in the next two months with the Wings faced with playing on back-to-back nights six times in the next seven weekends.

“On those back to backs, that’s certainly the approach we’ll take,” Blashill said. “Whenever I say who’s going to start on Friday, I’m going to tell you who’s going to start on Saturday because that’ll already be determined.”

Mike Green

D-PAIRINGS: The original plan was for newcomer Mike Green to work with DeKeyser on the second defensive pairing. But with DeKeyser out for 3-4 weeks with strained ligaments in his left foot, Blashill said he’ll put Green with Kyle Quincey.

With Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson as the first pair, that leaves Brendan Smith and Xavier Ouellet as the third pair.

“Quincey ended the year as a top four defenseman, he had a real good season last year,” Blashill said. “We have full faith that that’s the spot he’s in. Being bumped out of that spot had nothing to do with him, it had to do with an acquisition of a guy that we thought had a good match with Danny. So we think Quincey can go in that spot and do a real good job with Greener and we’ll see. Obviously when you have new players you got to figure out chemistry amongst pairings. Obviously Kronner and E have proven to be a good pair over time. We’re hoping Quincey and Greener can too.”

ROSTERS DUE: Teams have until Tuesday at 5 p.m. EST to submit their 23-man rosters to the league office. The Red Wings are expected to submit a roster, which includes 15 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies.

Here are the players expected to be on the roster that will be sent to the league on Tuesday:

Forwards (15): Justin Abdelkader, Dan Cleary, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Brad Richards, Joakim Andersson, Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Henrik Zetterberg, Luke Glendening, Teemu Pulkkinen, Dylan Larkin and Johan Franzen.

Defensemen (6): Brendan Smith, Mike Green, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall and Xavier Ouellet.

Goalies (2): Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

CLEARED: Brian Lashoff, Andy Miele and Mitch Callahan all cleared waivers Monday afternoon. They will all be assigned to the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids. The Wings did not place anyone on waivers on Tuesday.

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