As the 2014 NHL Entry Draft approaches, there are many things a top prospect is probably doing: traveling to Philadelphia, hanging out with friends and family, watching Twitter to see what people are saying about him, or in the case of Dylan Larkin, speaking to youth hockey players. On June 21, Larking was the guest speaker at the ISS Hockey Combine in Novi, Michigan (video below). At this camp, players ranging in age from 14-19 go through all of the same types of tests that the NHL Combine offers. Larkin, who is from nearby Waterford, Michigan and eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, was asked to speak to the youths about his experience and how his life as changed over the past few years.
“I wanted to give them a good message and talk to them about what’s coming up,” said Larkin on speaking to the players at the combine. “I wanted to try and help them as much as I can by giving them some positive words and encourage them to keep working hard.”
Not too long ago, Larkin was going through a similar process as he was working his way up the prospect ladder. He expressed how a lot of it is all about mindset.
“You’ve got to work hard and you have to want it,” said Larkin. “As you move on, you don’t want to have your mom and dad there pushing you to go to practice and workout. It’s got to come from within and that’s important for these young guys. The sooner they realize that, the better they’ll be.”
While Larkin is currently set to play for the University of Michigan next season, he’s spent the past two years with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (USANTDP) where two of his teammates, Alex Tuch and Sonny Milano, are also in the ISS Hockey Top 30. The USANTDP typically features some of the best young talent the United States has to offer.
“Everything is the best at the NTDP: the facilities, the coaches, the training staff and the equipment managers,” said Larkin. “You’re treated like a pro and you’re also expected to act like a pro. A sign in the locker room says, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ That’s a big thing for us. You have to play your part as it is Team USA.”
Larkin shows true leadership potential and while he did not skate at the ISS Combine, his knowledge and dedication to the game shows with him being able to recite the locker room quote taken from Luke 12:48. This is most likely one of the reasons why Red Berenson and Michigan hockey were interested in bringing Larkin into their program.
“I was recruited to Michigan before I was at the NTDP,” said Larkin. “Their history is winning and they’re always expected to win. That’s a big thing for me. I can’t wait to go down the stairs in the locker room out to ‘Hail to the Victors.’ I’ll be pretty nervous and excited.”
When it comes to the draft, the team that picks Larkin will be getting a smart player. He’s knowledgeable and shows true dedication to the game as well as the team game. There’s obviously a lot running through his mind as he prepares for the first round of the draft, where he’s expected to go.
“The more I think about it, the more I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Larkin. “That’s kind of the exciting part, but also where the nerves come from. It’ll be fun. I have my mom, dad and brother so it’ll be a family vacation in a nice city in Philadelphia. I hope I land with a team that wants me and will be excited to have me.”
Larkin’s head is in the right place and it most likely sets him apart from other players eligible for the draft. He shows a true passion for the game. That’s probably why all 30 NHL teams interviewed him at the NHL Combine.
“My work ethic on and off the ice set me apart,” said Larkin. “On the ice, I set a good example of the style of two-way play. I never take a shift off. Off the ice, I workout in the gym hard. I’m serious about hockey and take care of my body.”
The process at the NHL Combine was a bit intimidating for Larkin and one team stood out in his mind as being the most intimidating.
“Talking to the Avalanche was the most intimidating,” said Larkin. “Patrick Roy just sat there and stared at me the whole time.”
Hopefully hearing about his experience helped the players learn about what is expected of them and what it takes to even make it as far as being recruited to play Division I hockey. The team that takes Larkin is going to get a player whose mind is in the right place and will certainly be a leader on the team in the near future.
*Header image courtesy USANTDP.*