Author: Ryan Dadoun

Dylan Larkin

Looking to make the leap: Dylan Larkin


Detroit has a reputation for letting its players over ripen in the minors before allowing them to crack the team’s roster, but how much of that is philosophy and how much of it is necessity?

As a consequence of making the playoffs every year and often trading the first-round pick, the reality is that the Red Wings have to draft projects rather than players that are close to being NHL-ready. They nearly missed the postseason in 2013-14 though and on top of that the New Jersey Devils were forced to drop to the 30th spot as punishment for their original attempt to sign Ilya Kovalchuk, which led to the Red Wings possessing the 15th overall selection — their highest since 1991.

The Red Wings took Dylan Larkin with that pick, a skilled forward and a potential fan favorite thanks to his Michigan roots. He attended the University of Michigan in 2014-15 as a freshman and recorded 15 goals and 47 points in 35 contests. Afterwards, he joined the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins for their playoff run, scoring three goals and five points in six games.

“Dylan did a real good job when he stepped in for us in the AHL playoffs,” then Griffins and current Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said, per “To step in and have the impact he had, he didn’t look good as a young player. He was good.

“How close is he? He’s certainly close. What does that mean come camp? We’ll see. Everybody takes different journeys to the get to the NHL. How quickly those journeys are depends on the player and the work they put in this summer.”

That being said, Red Wings GM Ken Holland is predicting that it will be tough for Larkin to make the opening game roster. Part of that is due to Detroit’s logjam up front as it already has 16 forwards signed to one-way contracts. Given that, it will be tough for any rookie to make the team.

Still, if one can break through, it would likely be Larkin.

It’s Detroit Red Wings Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Detroit Red Wings.

After Detroit just barely managed to squeak into the playoffs in 2013-14, it seemed reasonable to wonder if its longstanding postseason streak dating back to the 1990-91 campaign was drawing to a close. However, the Red Wings’ efforts to rebuild on the fly continued and at first it looked like they would far exceed expectations.

Detroit got off to a 17-6-5 start, prompting Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to call the ’14-15 squad their best team since they went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009. The following day Detroit began a six-game losing streak and while that wasn’t the start of a collapse for the Red Wings, it did illustrate that this was an inconsistent team.

Further complicating matters was the decline of goaltender Jimmy Howard, who posted a 2.99 GAA and .896 save percentage in 21 games after the all-star break. That prompted Detroit to lean on 23-year-old Petr Mrazek instead. The young netminder helped keep Detroit above water in the playoff race as its 43-25-14 record secured the squad a postseason berth by a four-point margin.

That set up a first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Mrazek starting between the pipes. Detroit held its own against the eventual Stanley Cup finalists and Mrazek certainly had his moments as he posted two shutouts and turned aside 15 of 16 shots in Game 7. The one shot that got by him was all it took though as Lightning netminder Ben Bishop denied all 31 of the Red Wings’ shots on goal.

And with that, Detroit suffered its second straight first-round exit.

Off-season recap

The Detroit Red Wings’ playoff appearance streak started well before Babcock took over as the Red Wings’ bench boss, but he kept that legacy going for another decade and now he’s gone. Following Babcock’s decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit appointed Jeff Blashill to serve as the team’s second bench boss since the start of the salary cap era.

He’s inherited a team with some talented young players, but also two superstars in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk that are in the twilight of their careers. On the plus side, GM Ken Holland has provided Blashill with some reinforcements to aide in his rookie campaign.

Detroit signed offensive defenseman Mike Green to a three-year deal, $18 million deal and added veteran center Brad Richards to a one-year contract. Both could prove to be valuable additions with Green aiding Detroit with the man advantage and providing them with a right-handed shot from the blueline while Richards might serve on the second-line, allowing Datsyuk (once he’s healthy) and Zetterberg to play together.

With those additions, Detroit will attempt to build on its 2014-15 run and win its first playoff series since 2013.

PHT Morning Skate: EA Sports’ NHL 16 will include mascots

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend - Mascot Showdown

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Team mascots will be a part of EA Sports’ NHL 16. (EA Sports)

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg had his day with the Stanley Cup:

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner shined in Canada’s 4-1 exhibition victory over Russia as the two countries prepare for the 2016 World Juniors. (Toronto Sun)

Defenseman Bryce Salvador had a good talk with Devils GM Ray Shero recently, but it’s still unclear if he’ll extend his career. (The Record)

Buffalo Sabres vice president Joe Battista is reportedly planning on leaving the franchise. (Associated Press)