Michigan defenseman and projected top-overall pick Owen Power looks ready for the NHL. However, he might have other plans before making that dream his reality.
Power and nine other top prospects met with the media on Tuesday afternoon in advance of the 2021 NHL Draft. The question on the minds of many was if Power was still leaning towards returning to Michigan for at least one more season rather than turning pro right away. He still seems set on rejoining the Wolverines, but he did leave some of the door open.
Power Leaning Towards School
“I wouldn’t say I’m committed to going back to school. I mean I’m probably leaning towards it right now,” Power said. “But that’s obviously something that I have to talk to with whatever team drafts me. So it’ll be something that I look into more once I get drafted.”
Power’s experience at the World Championships certainly doesn’t hurt his chances of debuting in the NHL immediately should he decide to turn pro right after being drafted. The tournament allowed him to see where he stands going into next season.
“I think the World Championships was good for me to kind of see where I was at when playing with pros and playing against pros,” Power said. “I think it gave me a bit of a better idea of how ready I was to play pro hockey.”
Is Power ready though? What does he have to do to show that he is ready to make a lasting impact in the NHL? For him, it comes down to continued growth and devleopment.
“(To be ready) for pro hockey, continue to develop my game. (I must) continue to get stronger, faster, quicker and just keep developing the areas of my game I think I need to work on and continue growing in the areas I’m already good at.”
Power does meet with the Sabres on Thursday. The Sabres do own the top pick and will have an important decision to make. If they do choose him, they will need to decide what his best course of action is. In his mind, Power believes a return to school would be for just one more season.
“Yeah that’s the plan if I was to go back to school,” Power said. “I think that’s my goal is to play one more year and be ready to play in the NHL.”
Power also admitted that two other factors could come into play when deciding if he was returning to school. The first was his desire to enjoy the college experience at Michigan. The second was a chance to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. In his words, it was “always a dream of mine” to play there.
For now, Power seems ready to return to Michigan for one more chance at both a Big 10 and National Championship. He would rejoin his teammates in Matty Beniers and Kent Johnson. Power would also get to play with incoming freshman Luke Hughes as well. Unless there is a complete change of heart, Power and the Wolverines will be must watch TV come next season.
Will it be the Sabres? Maybe the incoming Seattle Kraken? Maybe it could even be the Anaheim Ducks. Whoever drafts Power will most likely have to wait a season. But given everything he brings to the table, it’ll be well worth the wait.
Top Prospects’ Side Dishes
We will share a collection of notes taken from Tuesday’s media availability. They are in no particular order.
- Simon Edvinsson says he believes he will play the 2021-22 season with Frolunda. Like Power, he did leave a little room for an opening to do something else depending upon who drafts him.
- William Eklund said he too would likely play in Europe next season. He’s a sneaky candidate to be the top pick by the Sabres. He just won the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. He also overcame both an appendectomy and Covid-19 last season.
- Eklund on overcoming those challenges: “Those things were mentally tough on me. I had to fight through them. The season can go in different ways. You can have a good one in the beginning of the year and these two things come from nowhere. I had to work mentally to be tough there.”
- Mason McTavish said that he’s spoken to 3/4 of the teams in the league. He wasn’t specific as to who he spoke to. But it’s reasonable to suggest all of the team with top picks were involved. Teams in need of a center will look his way early.
- Luke Hughes says he has been skating for about five weeks now since recovering from his injury.
- Hughes admitted that his brother Jack really wants him on the Devils. But says there are 32 great teams out there and would be happy to go to any team.
- Hughes would not take the bait when asked who between Jack and Quinn was the better player. “That’s not a fair question”, Luke said. Smart man.
- Matty Beniers too seems ready for one more run at Michigan. He enjoyed his experience at the World Championships and called out Brian Boyle by name as someone who mentored him while in Latvia.
- Dylan Guenther got to play in his junior league this season and said that the protocols were strict. But he and others felt safe and were grateful for a chance to play. If one league can pull it off, so can others at this stage.
- Brandt Clarke wins the award for being the best talker of the bunch. In this case, that’s a very good thing. He had a lot to say and was insightful. He says he’s one of the biggest talkers on the ice too.
- Brennan Othmann is definitely confident. He believes he will be the go-to guy in Flint similar to the way Ty Dellandrea was in his time.
- Kent Johnson went the BCHL route and to the NCAAs despite being from Vancouver. His advice to young players making a decision? “I would suggesting thinking about both (routes.) Don’t be stubborn or stuck in one. Definitely see out both paths.”
- Why did Johnson go the BCHL way? “When I was younger I was a bit of a late bloomer. I just went to the BCHL in my 16-year old year. I loved playing in Trail (Smoke Eaters.) I saw the opportunity with the late birthday to be able to play college hockey in my draft year. It was a great development path for me.”
- It seems teams asked the prospects who went overseas why they made that choice. When asked about it, the prospects all agreed that it would be helpful for their development and to get used to playing at a higher level. Just me speaking here, I do wonder if that will earn points with certain teams. I will be watching this trend at the draft.
Up next is the Expansion Draft on July 21 followed by the NHL Entry Draft on July 23-24. Each of these players will be called early. Now it’s up to the teams to decide what order they will go in.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.