By Michael Caples –
From May 26-31, Dylan Larkin was one of seven Michigan natives experiencing a series of training sessions and interviews with potential employers – all 30 NHL teams.
Larkin, a Waterford native, attended the NHL Combine, an exclusive event for the top 119 players in the world to showcase their physical abilities for NHL teams and sit down with them for interviews and discussions.
The University of Michigan commit and product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, rated No. 17 among North American-born skaters by NHL Central Scouting, said he enjoyed the Combine experience.
“It was a lot of fun,” Larkin said. “You have a lot of downtime at night to hang out, I have a lot of friends there that I played with, so it was fun.”
The players were put through 11 fitness stations during the physical evaluation at the Combine, with drills like overhand pull-ups, single-leg squads, agility tests and the bench press. However, Larkin said that both his best and his worst workout experiences came on the stationary bike. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward said he did well on the Wingate test, where players pedal as fast as they can for 30 seconds, but that he didn’t enjoy the VO2 Max test as much.
You know the VO2 Max – your nose is plugged, oxygen tubes covering mouths, resistance increasing; it’s the one where most guys end up vomiting by the end of it.
“I was just trying to think ‘don’t stop, keep going, don’t quit’,” Larkin said. “I was thinking that, before it, it’s the last test you have, just do your best on it, give it all you have.”
Larkin said he enjoyed the other part of the Combine – sitting down with NHL GMs and other organization leaders to answer questions as the 30 member clubs evaluate all the prospects. Didn’t hurt that some of the meetings included sitting down with Steve Yzerman, Ken Holland and Kris Draper.
“I thought it was really cool to meet some big names,” Larkin said. “Yzerman, Draper was with the Wings, Ken Holland, I thought that was really cool.
“Those guys, they understood it. They just tried to get to know you as a person. I just tried to be myself, answer the questions honestly, but it was mostly about how I play, what I can bring to their teams.”
Being a player who has worn No. 19 his whole life, Larkin admitted it was nerve-wracking to sit down with the man who made the number legendary across Michigan.
“Yeah, it was at first,” Larkin said of meeting the Tampa Bay Lightning GM. “You hear how intense he is, but it turned out that he’s really a nice guy. As it went on, I got a little less nervous.”
Larkin also told MiHockey that while NFL teams have made many a headline for awkward and sometimes inappropriate questions during their league combine, he didn’t field any that were out of the ordinary during his time in Toronto, saying everything was “pretty straightforward.”
Now, Larkin and the rest of the NHL’s top prospects will wait to see if their results impacted their draft stock. Many mock drafts have had the Waterford native being selected in the middle of the first round.
Larkin said he’s just going to enjoy his time leading up to the draft.
“I don’t feel any nerves at all,” the Wolverines commit said. “All of the hockey is done, all the teams have met you. If they like me, I guess I’ll meet them again at the draft. For now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy it.”