Dylan Larkin's stay in Ann Arbor is lasting just a single season.
The 2014 Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick (15th overall) is forgoing his final three seasons of eligibility with the University of Michigan, signing an ATO with Grand Rapids (AHL) in order to play during the AHL postseason.
#RedWings in process of signing Dylan Larkin to 3-yr entry contract, would run '15-16, '16-'17, '17-18. ATO = he can play in AHL playoffs.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) May 21, 2015
"In Dylan's year with Michigan, he proved to be one of the most talented players in college hockey," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said in a statement released by the University. "We knew this was a tough decision for Dylan, but we also anticipated that this might happen.
"I hope that Dylan continues on a path to graduate from the University while preparing for a long career in the National Hockey League."
Larkin, named the 2014-15 SB Nation Big Ten Media Freshman of the Year along with being an all-Second Team and all-Freshman Team honoree, finished his first and only season as a member of the Wolverines with 47 points (15G-32A) in 37 games. Only linemate Zach Hyman had more points among Big Ten players. It's a total that most years would stand out as the top freshman season. In fact, his is one of the best ones in Michigan's long history.
"My year at Michigan has been the best year of my life, the most fun year of hockey I've ever had," Larkin said. "Going to one of the best universities in the world and having fun with my classmates, it will be tough missing out on what they're going to accomplish. On the other note, I have a chance to live out the dream of my life and I'm really excited bout it. I really feel like I'm ready for this challenge."
Michigan finished third in the Big Ten regular season and came within a game of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Minnesota in the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship. Larkin had the chance to shine in the conference tournament. The 6'1", 192 lbs 18 year-old put up four points (1G-3A) against Wisconsin at his future NHL home, including utilizing his speed on a coast-to-coast goal that sealed the deal.
In addition, Larkin twice suited up for Team USA this year. He led Team USA in the U-20 World Junior Championships with 5 goals and 7 points in 5 games. Two separate times he was named player of the game for Team USA, which finished fifth for a second consecutive year.
He also was one of five NCAA players who suited up for Team USA in the World Championships, earning a Bronze Medal. There he was killing penalties and playing against NHL and professional players.
The Red Wings go against their operating M.O. by having Larkin leave after one year, but get a player who can help down the line. SB Nation College Hockey had Larkin as the third-best NHL prospect and highest drafted college player.
He really established himself as the third overall player on this list starting with a fantastic World Juniors Tournament, where he was the only US player that generated consistent offense. He carried that offensive production back to Michigan, scoring 24 points in 13 games since returning from the World Juniors. Larkin has always been known as a big, responsible, two-way center. But the scoring ability he's added to his game this season has really increased his value as a prospect.
Larkin is the second Michigan player to leave early this year, joining captain Andrew Copp, who signed a professional contract with Winnipeg Jets. The Wolverines do return Tyler Motte and JT Compher along with bringing in a high-end class up front for next season led by projected 2015 first round pick Kyle Connor, but lose its top three scorers.
With Larkin departing, Ohio State's Matthew Weis is the only Big Ten All-Freshman forward to remain in school.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate