Incoming freshman Larkin awaits NHL Draft fate

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By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published June 25, 2014

Dylan Larkin is set to make the Big Ten hockey record books before he even skates in a maize sweater.

Friday, the incoming freshman forward and former U.S. National Team Development Program standout should be drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft, making him the first player in the Big Ten’s two-year existence to be selected in the first round.

Though SB Nation’s Bob McKenzie lists him as the No. 12 pick, most mock drafts project Larkin, the centerpiece to the Michigan hockey team’s 2014-15 freshman class, going between 15th and 17th.

Still, Larkin’s draft stock has improved since mid-season rankings thanks to a two-goal, two-assist performance at the IIHF Men’s Under-18 World Championships, in which the United States took gold.

Larkin will be the only Wolverine present at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia this weekend and will likely be the only incoming freshman drafted. Assistant coach Brian Wiseman will also attend the draft.

Michigan had five players, including four incoming freshmen — defenseman Nolan De Jong (Minnesota Wild), defenseman Michael Downing (Florida Panthers), forward Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks) and forward JT Compher — drafted in 2013. Captain and junior forward Andrew Copp was also selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the fourth round.

A late commit to the program, goaltender Zach Nagelvoort has put himself in a position to be drafted. In place of injured sophomore netminder Steve Racine, Nagelvoort became one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA and finished the season allowing just 2.20 goals per game, good for 15th among Division I goalies. Nagelvoort’s .929 save percentage placed him second only to Shawn Hunwick on the program’s single-season record list.

A single-game, school-record 63 saves in a double-overtime loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament perhaps solidified Nagelvoort’s potential draft stock. He is currently ranked No. 21 among North American goalies.

Sophomore forward Evan Allen is one of several North American skaters tied for No. 210 on NHL prospect rankings. Allen, a U.S. NTDP alum, tallied six points in 23 games played during his freshman campaign.