The United States kicked off the 2015 World Junior Championships with a 2-1 shootout win against Finland on Friday. Obviously, Jack Eichel will dominate the headlines for the Americans, as he is one of the best prospects in years for the United States, but there’s no doubt Detroit Red Wings fans had their eyes on first-round pick Dylan Larkin.
Larkin was selected 15th overall in last summer’s draft by the Red Wings, the highest draft pick the Red Wings have had since they selected Martin Lapointe 10th overall in 1991.
The freshman has experienced a lot of success early on in his career at Michigan, as he has posted 16 points in 15 games with the Wolverines.
Larkin Impressive in First Game
Against Finland, Larkin was a third-line center with fellow Wolverine Tyler Motte and Minnesota’s Hudson Fasching. Larkin also spent time on the penalty kill, helping kill off all five USA penalties. He even logged some four on four time during overtime.
Larkin had two shots on goal and won 50 percent of his faceoffs (7 of 14) in the win.
Not only was he able to help kill off the penalties, but he created some shorthanded opportunities by creating turnovers and using his speed to get around defenders.
The Michigan Daily’s Jason Rubinstein liked what he saw from the two Wolverines against Finland.
Dylan Larkin and Tyler Motte have had great chemistry thus far. On separate lines at Michigan. — Jason Rubinstein (@jrubinstein4) December 26, 2014
Although Larkin did not show up the score sheet, Larkin impressed on Friday, and people were taking notice.
@DetroitRedWings prospect Dylan Larkin looks sharp for the Americans
— map (@mikecheque12) December 26, 2014
Larkin did the little things that don’t show up a on a score sheet. He was quick on the puck in the offensive zone, outworked the opposition and his line did a fantastic job cycling the puck and making the Finns chase in their defensive zone.
Other Red Wings at World Juniors
Julius Vahatalo, the Red Wings’ sixth-round pick last summer, took the ice for Finland against Larkin and the Americans.
Vahatalo did not show up the score sheet as well, but one game does not make or break a prospects’ future. Vahatalo is a big kid at 6-foot-5, 191 pounds and could be a great sleeper pick for the Red Wings if he can effectively use his body while creating scoring chances.
Other Red Wings prospects participating in the World Junior Championships include defenseman Joe Hicketts (free agent), who will suit up for Canada later today against Slovakia, and a pair of Swedes — forward Christoffer Ehn (2014 fourth-round pick) and forward Axel Holmstrom (2014 seventh-round pick) — will play the Czech Republic.
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.