In this edition of Buffalo Sabres News & Rumors, Owen Power is named to Team Canada’s 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship roster, Malcolm Subban could make a return in net against the Winnipeg Jets, and the Sabres’ three 2022 NHL All-Star Game captain nominees are revealed.
Power to Represent Team Canada at 2022 World Juniors
Drafted first overall by the Sabres at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Power will represent Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship after being named to the final roster on Monday. The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, is in his sophomore season with the Michigan Wolverines, where he has 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 18 games. His most recent international tournament experience saw him tally three assists in 10 games en route to a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
Power should play a major role for Team Canada in all areas on the ice. At 6-foot-6 and 214 pounds, he is a dominant force with incredible hockey intelligence, playmaking skills, skating and shooting abilities. He headlines a highly-touted Canadian defense that also includes Lukas Cormier, Kaiden Guhle, Carson Lambos, Ryan O’Rourke, Donovan Sebrango, Ronan Seeley and Olen Zellweger. Likely in his final year before donning the Sabres’ royal blue and gold, he will look to win his second gold medal as a teenager when the puck drops for the World Juniors later this month.
Subban Could Make Return in Sabres’ Net on Tuesday
Sabres head coach Don Granato expects Subban to return on Tuesday after suffering a lower-body injury in his Buffalo debut versus the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 4. With the Sabres looking to snap a 10-game winless streak, he might get another chance to make a strong impression on his new team when it takes on the Winnipeg Jets. It is unclear whether or not he will start for Buffalo on Tuesday, but after the team started Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in each of its last three games, there seems to be a good chance Subban will get the nod.
When Subban returns, he will look to prove himself worthy of a full-time job in the NHL. With 83 games of experience as a member of the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks and now Sabres, he is at a prime stage to make a break into the big league. Buffalo has been dealing with goaltending issues all season, with Craig Anderson out month-to-month with an upper-body injury and Dustin Tokarski week-to-week in COVID-19 protocols. Subban has a great opportunity to make a name for himself on the Sabres if he finds a way to help turn the team’s goaltending around, potentially as soon as Tuesday.
Dahlin, Okposo and Thompson Are Sabres’ All-Star Captain Nominees
Voting for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game is now open, and three Sabres are nominated for Atlantic Division captaincy. Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and forwards Kyle Okposo and Tage Thompson are on the ballot, with voting open until Jan. 8. If any of the Sabres’ captain nominees make it into the event, they will take the ice in Las Vegas from Feb. 4-5.
Dahlin leads all Sabres defensemen with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 27 games. He is the team’s top power-play points-getter, tallying a goal and five assists on the man advantage. If he is voted into this year’s NHL All-Star Game, it will be his first appearance at the event.
Okposo leads all Sabres skaters with 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 27 games. Right behind him is Thompson, who’s tied with Jeff Skinner for second with 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 27 games. Okposo played in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, while Thompson is still looking for his first appearance.
The Sabres play its first matchup of a three-game road trip versus the Jets tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Winless in its last 10 games, Buffalo looks to end its losing skid against the Jets, who sits 16th in the NHL standings with a 13-9-5 record.
Tom Pepper hosts The Hockey Writers Podcast on iHeartRadio and wherever you listen to podcasts, every weekday (Monday to Friday). In addition, he writes the “NHL Sound Bites” and “NHL Talk” columns. He is a diehard Buffalo Sabres fan in Toronto, frequently driving the Queen Elizabeth Way to cheer on his team at KeyBank Center.