Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin Photo: MGoBlog via Flickr

Going into the 2015 preseason, all eyes were on a group of Detroit Red Wings prospects: Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanisiou, Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin. Not since the early 90’s have the Wings had such a plethora of intriguing young players when players like Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladamir Konstantinov were entering the league. With the current state of the Wings roster, however, the odds were against any of the prospects making the final roster.  Surprisingly, it’s the youngest of the bunch who has shown the combination of skills, composure and hockey sense to be successful in the NHL.

Dylan Larkin

After foregoing his final three years of eligibility at the University of Michigan and signing a three year contract with Detroit last season, Larkin wasted no time making his presence felt at the professional level. Larkin debuted in the playoffs with the Grand Rapids Griffins, contributing 3 goals and 2 assists in 6 games.

In the 2015 preseason, Larkin was tested against some of the top talent in the league and never missed a beat. Finishing tied for second on the team with 3 goals and 4 points in 4 games, Larkin shined on both the Wings power play and penalty kill.

Larkin was up to every challenge that coach Jeff Blashill threw his way, displaying his savvy play-making ability, vision and excellent two-way play.  Oftentimes you would see Larkin displaying a calming, veteran-like influence in gathering a loose puck in his own zone and finding an open man to start a breakout.

Rookies aren’t supposed to look as comfortable as Larkin does.

Detroit doesn’t typically allow teenagers to don the winged wheel, preferring for them to hone their skills at the minor league level for at least a few years before joining the big club. After Steve Yzerman made his debut at 18 for the Wings in 1983, only Matthew Dandenault and Jiri Fischer we able to crack the Wings lineup for any significant amount of time at Larkin’s age.

However, not many Wings prospects have shown the kind of maturity and composure that Larkin has displayed.With Pavel Datsyuk out to start the season, the Red Wings need play-makers who can move the puck and create opportunities.

Larkin is just that.

To begin the preseason, GM Ken Holland said that he wanted Larkin to be a top 9 forward to make the team. Recently he added that he would want Larkin to be one of the guys that you trust in the final two minutes of a close game. I believe that Larkin has proven to be that guy and deserves to be the first teenager since Steve Yzerman to start the season with the Red Wings.

A comparison that I look forward to making for the next 20 years or so.