Owen Power says he is leaning towards returning to the NCAA next season. He made the comments during an appearance on the NHL Network on Friday night. Power is one of the few players projected to go first overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and the Buffalo Sabres own the top pick.
Other names in the running to go first overall include two of Power’s University of Michigan teammates, Matthew Beniers and Kent Johnson. It’s unclear what their plans for next season are.
In an unusual season to play hockey — be it in the NHL, AHL, Europe or the NCAA — the sophomore feels like he might have missed out on his only opportunity to get the full U.S. college hockey experience. Michigan was supposed to play in the NCAA tournament this spring but had to back out because of multiple positive COVID-19 test results. The entire season, the team played without fans, depriving Power of the famous atmosphere ex-college players rave about.
Sabres Are Close to Power’s Family
Power grew up in Mississauga and has a big family that follows his play wherever he goes. They’ve been very excited for him and anxiously awaited hearing who had won the draft lottery. The potential of having him close to home is something they could easily be rooting for.
“Buffalo is up there, and it’s close to home, so I think it would be, I think, a really good spot for me and good for my family. We used to go down to (Buffalo) for a few nights. My mom would go shopping. I know my mom and my aunts really love it down there.”
In another interview with TSN, Power also had this to say about potentially joining the Sabres: “”It’d be awesome,” he said. “It’s nice and close to home, so lots of family would be able to come down … I would go to games when I was younger and watch the Leafs versus Sabres down in Buffalo. Obviously, it’s two big fan bases and a pretty good rivalry.”
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But when he was asked about what the rest of his summer looks like and for his thoughts on whether he would like to jump right into the big show, he had this to say.
“I think right now; I’m probably leaning more towards going back (the NCAA). It’s something I’d like to do just to try and get the true experience playing college hockey,” he told NHL Now’s Mike Johnson. “At the end of the day, it obviously depends on what the team wants and what everyone around me thinks is best. I don’t think there’s really a bad option. But, I would say I’m leaning a bit more towards going back to school right now.”
Power Already Has International Success
The projected No. 1 pick is fresh off an impressive performance with Team Canada, who recently captured the gold medal at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Riga, Latvia. He said he flew overseas to join the team not knowing if he would play any more than one or two games, but he was given an opportunity by head coach Gerard Gallant and made good on it.
Power saw his ice-time increase with every game. Against Russia, he logged 24:02. Against the United States in the semi-final, he played 27:51, and in the gold medal match, he was on the ice for 24:17. He chipped in offensively as well with three assists over the tournament.
Wherever Power ends up in the draft, he figures to make an impact on the NHL roster when he arrives. He’s a big body (6-foot-5) and skates with authority. His passing skills and vision are second to none at the college level, which has produced some good NHL defensemen lately, including current Norris Trophy nominee Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
Power can skate the puck out of dangerous areas and possesses a good offensive game, but he is also strong in his own end where he is once again helped with an excellent skating stride that easily closes up the gap on most players. If he does in fact play another year in Michigan, Power could be available to Team Canada during this winter’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.
Mike Carter is a freelance writer and contributor for the Buffalo Sabres with The Hockey Writers and NHLTradeRumors.Me He is @mikecarterlives on Twitter. Mike has been writing professionally since 2012, with stints as a reporter in northern British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta. He now calls Salmon Arm, B.C. home.