It was a big weekend for the NHL.. The highly-awaited 2014 Entry Draft began Friday night. Though it wasn't the most lustrous of draft pools, we saw some pretty good picks.. Aaron Ekblad to Florida, Sam Reinhart to Buffalo, and Leon Draisaitl to Edmonton. (Sorry, Leon.. You can come to Detroit in 2020)
Detroit entered the draft with one need in their prospect pool... Depth down the middle. I figured they would definitely draft a center in the 1st round, and probably take one or two additionally in later rounds. What we saw this weekend was Ken Holland literally bolster the position of center. SIX (6) of seven picks were all players were centers. A couple of them a bit questionable, but it's really hard to question later-round draft picks. You just never know what they will turn into. Detroit took some homegrown talent in the first round with Waterford-native University of Michigan commit, Dylan Larkin. He was one of the two players I wanted them to take at 15th overall, so all-in-all.. This was a very successful draft. Here's an in-depth look at the picks Detroit took:
1st round pick, 15th Overall-
Dylan Larkin, Center - University of Michigan
Born Jul 30 1996 -- Waterford, MI
Height 6.01 -- Weight 190 -- Shoots L
Dylan is a native of the Metro-Detroit area, he has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 60 games during the 2013-14 season, he ranked second on the Under-18 team with 31 goals among his 56 points (31goals, 25 assists). Larkin served as an alternate captain for the United States at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, tallying four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in six contests. Larkin also skated with the NTDP in 2013-14, totaling 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 55 games. Dylan was a 2nd line center, right behind 1st line center 2015 draft-eligible Jack Eichel. Larkin seems to be one of those players who not only takes team-leadership very seriously, but has the ability to make players around him better.
Dylan is committed to the University of Michigan, and will spend the next three to four years playing under former NHL player, Red Berenson. Dylan has made history as being the first Big Ten hockey player to be taken in the first round since it has been created. He is expected to be an impact player, even as a freshman. He is expected to be a top-six center for Berenson and the Wolverines from the get-go. He's got wheels for a kid his size. He combines quickness and a big frame to create a unique attack as a power-forward. Think of a player like Darren Helm, but with the frame and hands of Jordan Staal. I foresee Dylan Larkin being a solid 2nd or 3rd line center at the NHL level. Great pick for Detroit to add some blue-chip depth down the middle.
3rd round pick, 63rd Overall-
Dominic Turgeon, Center - Portland Winterhawks
Born Feb 26 1996 -- Cherry Hills Village, CO
Height 6.02 -- Weight 198 -- Shoots L
4th round pick, 106th Overall-
Christoffer Ehn, Center - Frölunda Jr
Born Apr 5 1996 -- Skara, SWE
Height 6.03 -- Weight 181 -- Shoots L
Christoffer Ehn is another defensively-responsible two-way type center, who has a big frame. He split last season between Frolunda's Under-18 and Under-20 squads as well as making an appearance in two games for Frolunda's professional club. He also represented his country at the 2014 World Under-18 Championships, recording three points (0-3-3) in seven contests. The 18-year-old forward has totaled 80 points (33-47-80) and 36 penalty minutes in 86 career games in the Swedish under-18 leagues and 15 points (8-7-15) in 59 games at the under-20 level. More center depth, indeed a signature Hakan Andersson scouted player.
5th round pick, 136th Overall-
Thomas (Chase) Perry, Goalie - Boston College
Born Apr 5 1996 -- Andover, MN
Height 6.02 -- Weight 176 -- Catches L
Perry suited up in 35 games for the NAHL’s Wenatchee Wild in 2013-14, sporting a 15-12-6 record, 2.34 goals against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts, while being named his club’s most valuable player. He posted a 1.83 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in 10 games of the 2013-2014 NAHL Playoffs.
6th round pick, 166th Overall-
Julius Vähätalo, Center - TPS Turku
Born Mar 23 1995 -- Vahto, FIN
Height 6.04 -- Weight 192 -- Shoots L
Vahatalo, 19 years old, registered 39 points (18-21-39) in 33 games for TPS Turku in Finland’s top junior league and added three points (3-0-3) in 18 games for TPS Turku’s senior team during the 2013-14 campaign. A 6-foot-4, 192-pound center hailing from Vahto, Finland, Vahatalo has tallied 45 points (19-26-45) in 49 career games at the under-20 level, adding 60 points (23-37-60) in 63 games in the Finnish Junior B circuit. He was a player that went undrafted last year, so he's a bit older than most.. However, I think they'll try to bring him over to Grand Rapids sooner rather than later to see how he fares in North America.
7th round pick, 196th Overall-
Axel Holmström, Center - Skellefteå
Born Jun 29 1996 -- Arvidsjaur, SWE
Height 6.00 -- Weight 196 -- Shoots L
No, he's not related to Tomas. But what he is, is a two-way center who has play-making abilities. He's known as a high-intensity player who works for the puck. Axel put up 15 goals and 38 points in 33 SuperElit games. He also also made his SHL debut for the senior team, dressing in four games, which is impressive given that he is still only 17 years old. He's not known to be a very quick skater, but with his frame, and strength he can still be very effective on defense. He's been commended for a good face-off conversion, so that's always a welcomed commodity as well. I like this pick a lot, a strong Swedish center with a bad-ass name.
7th round pick, 201st Overall-
Alexander Kadeykin, Center - Atlant Mytishchi
Born Oct 4 1993 -- Elektrostal, RUS
Height 6.05 -- Weight 216 -- Shoots L
MOTHER-LAND! Kenny went a different route with the 201st overall pick which was acquired from San Jose for Brad Stuart. Alex Kadeykin has been passed over and has gone undrafted the last two years. He has been enjoying success playing in the KHL with Atlant Mytishchi, and was the team-leader in points his first pro season with the club, posting 8 goals and 15 points in 54 games. He's a big-bodied centerman who could likely step into an AHL role today, if called upon. Yes, he's Russian. No, I don't care. I love Russians. You should too. Remember when Pavel Datsyuk was drafted in the 6th round? Not saying this kid is another Pav, but draft picks are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.
All-in-all, I think this was a good draft. You brought in some good names to add depth going forward. I was a bit befuddled by trading up in the third round, but like I said.. They must have seen something in Dominic that made them want him. Adding players like Dylan Larkin is huge. Dylan has been an asset to every team he has played with, and I think he could be a real future piece of Detroit's offensive core. What do you think about the draft this year?