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DETROIT — Dylan James knows his offensive skills aren’t going to make him an NHL star.
But he said he believes he has assets that can help the Detroit Red Wings return to being a consistent contender for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I take a lot of pride in being a two-way player,” James said. “Most of my offense is going to come from my defense. I think speed is my best skill. I can use it on the forecheck to limit the other team’s time and space.
“I love doing that.”
James was named rookie of the year in the United States Hockey League last season after he had 61 points (28 goals, 33 assists) in 62 regular-season games with Sioux City and eight points (five goals, three assists) in 10 playoff games to help win the Clark Cup.
“That was an unreal experience,” James said. “Winning a [championship] is obviously good for your confidence and the team’s confidence.”
The Red Wings selected James in the second round (No. 40) of the 2022 NHL Draft.
“We’re really excited about him, because he plays a 200-foot game and we can use him in all situations,” Red Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said. “He doesn’t score a ton of goals, but he scores big goals. He comes through when his team needs him.”
Draper actually is a good role model for James (6 feet, 181 pounds).
During his 20-season NHL career, Draper was known as a two-way forward who provided solid secondary offense. He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) and was voted the Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2004.
James is long road from that level, but the 18-year-old will take the next step in his development starting in the fall at the University of North Dakota.
He is aware of the history of the Red Wings, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight season in 2021-22.
“I didn’t know everything about them before they picked me, but I knew about their 11 Stanley Cups and I knew about all the great players they’ve had,” he said. “It’s quite a start to get drafted by (general manager) Steve Yzerman.”
Now James hopes to take the next step.
“I thought I was a really good skater when I got here, but the skating coach has given me a lot of tips,” he said. “Plus we have so many presentations on taking care of ourselves and our bodies.
“But now it is up to me.”
Photo: Detroit Red Wings
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