DETROIT >> In desperate need of centers in their organization, the Detroit Red Wings selected Waterford native Dylan Larkin with the 15th selection in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Larkin, who’s enrolled at the University of Michigan next year, was the second-line center at the U.S. National Team Development Program and finished fourth in scoring with 31 goals and 25 assists in 60 games.
After center Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle.
“I think center is a major piece of a building block in most organizations,” Tyler Wright, Detroit’s new director of amateur scouting said last week. “You can never have enough centers.”
The Wings’ top centers in the organization are Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options, Andreas Athanasiou and Mattias Janmark.
They’re a little deeper at forward with Anthony Mantha, Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, Mitch Callahan, Zach Nastasiuk and Bertuzzi.
Larkin is considered more of a shooter than a passer and has a potent slap shot.
He’s also a strong technical skater that can build up speed quick and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net.
Larkin is 6-1, 190 pounds.
In past drafts the Wings have focused on drafting players with good size, but would prefer players with good hockey sense.
“That’s what wins you games,” Wright said. “You can still have smaller players in the lineup, but you have to surround them with bigger players. Size is something we definitely will take into consideration.”
The Wings have seven picks in this year’s draft. They traded their second round pick to obtain Legwand from Nashville.
Detroit does have two picks in the seventh round, one of which from San Jose as part of the Brad Stuart trade two seasons ago.
The Wings’ selection was their highest since choosing Martin Lapointe with the 10th overall pick in 1991.
It’s the sixth consecutive year Detroit has taking a forward with its top pick in the draft.
Detroit scored big last season, trading down to snatch Mantha, who led the QMJHL in scoring and was also named the league MVP.
In the second round the Wings took forwards Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi, who have both been invited Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp.