The Michigan defenseman shows promise in his first month wearing the blue and gold
CC: The Hockey Writers
BUFFALO, N.Y, (April-25-2022) - The final month of the 2021-22 NHL regular season saw defenseman Owen Power suit up for the Buffalo Sabres.
Power made his debut on April 12 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Two days later he scored his first career point on an assist to Rasmus Asplund in the teams 6-2 loss against the St. Louis Blues. On Thursday, April 21, Power scored his first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils, contributing to the team's 5-2 win.
On Saturday against the New York Islanders, Power proved stong on the defense recording three blocks.
Power spoke about his first NHL goal, calling it a great example of teamwork between him, Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson.
“It was pretty surreal, so it was obviously nice just to get it out of the way,” said Power. “I saw it was a one-on-one and I beat my guy up the ice. I was hoping he would see me and, lucky enough he saw me, so it was a good play.”
The Sabres selected Power with the top pick out of the University of Michigan. He spent most of the regular season with the Wolverines, scoring 32 points on 3 goals and 29 assists.
In early 2022, Power led team Canada to the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship. In the preliminary round in December 2021, he became the first Canadian defenseman in tournament history to score a hat trick. He then represented the Great White North in the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Returning to Michigan helped Power improve his instincts in the offensive zone, leading the Wolverines to the second-best power play in the nation.
Power signed with the Sabres on April 8, after the NCAA Frozen Four. He wasted no time adjusting to the NHL world. In an interview with the Buffalo News, he said it's important for a player like him to set his mind on the game.
“I think everyone just thinks way more faster. So your brain kind of has to be working at all times,” he said. “I think that's kind of what's been the biggest difference.”
Sabres head coach Don Granato said the team's success shouldn't depend on if Power can become an instant superstar, but instead depend on the development of the team's prospects.
“Nobody has to be the savior,” said Granato. “This group is going to do it together and they’re building together. You can see the camaraderie and the passion that they have for each other and to put that jersey on. It’s fun to be a part of as a coach. … And obviously, when you add talent, and we feel like we have a lot of talent, though it’s young at this point, there’s always that energy and excitement for us as coaches, knowing each day they are getting better.”
Experts call the Sabres' prospect pool the best in the NHL. Players like Power, Dylan Cozens, Josh Bloom, Jack Quinn, Mattias Samuelsson, John Peterka and Devon Levi showed they could provide consistency for the team during the long run.
The team will have to add more pieces if it wants to make a run for the postseason, but Power said he enjoyed playing in Buffalo and getting to know his teammates.
“It was nice to get out there and kind of get to know them,” Power said. “I was able to ask a lot of questions about their careers and everyday life in the NHL. So I think it's nice to have two older guys take me out to dinner and make me feel part of the group.”