By Warren Kozireski —
If you take a close look at the rosters of each of the final four teams alive in the NHL playoffs (Tampa Bay, Montreal, NY Islanders, Las Vegas), they each had at least one shutdown defenseman and the Buffalo Sabres likely added that component to their blueline with the selection of University of Michigan product Owen Power with the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Standing 6’5”and 214 lbs. at 18 years old, Power jumped right into the Wolverines lineup as a true freshman and proved to be a stabilizer in all situations.
A mobile skater, he may not provide much offensively after putting up 16 points over 26 games this past season, but will be a much-needed impact player both five-on-five and on the penalty kill.
“I think it’s pretty special with my family celebrating with me,” Power said. “I didn’t know until they called my name; I was kind of hoping. I’m excited for what’s to come.
“I’m a two-way defenseman who can play in all situations and play a lot of minutes.”
The Mississauga native spent two seasons with Chicago in the USHL prior to college.
Any doubts about him being able to compete at the next level were likely quashed at the 2021 IIHF Men’s World Championships in Latvia as he started on the fourth defensive pair, but quickly gained regular shifts before rising to the top pair midway through the tournament and led Team Canada in ice time.
“It was a great learning experience just being there and winning the gold medal was really special.”
“Every game he’s got more confidence,” Team Canada head coach Gerald Gallant said.” The kid’s going to be a superstar hockey player.”
Power has not decided whether to turn pro right away or return for his sophomore season at Michigan.
“I haven’t talked with anyone from Buffalo yet, so I will just celebrate with my family and friends and not worry about it. I think I’m ready to play, but I have to decide what’s best for my development,” Power said.
With their second first round selection acquired earlier in the day from Philadelphia in the Rasmus Ristolainen deal, Buffalo selected Isak Rosen from Leksand in Sweden.
A 5’11”, 161 lb. left wing will be expected to produce goals as he scored 21 goals in 38 games in his final junior season. Playing against men this past season, he was goalless in 22 games. He won a bronze medal with Team Sweden at the World Under 18’s as one of their top forwards scoring seven goals in seven games.
“I think I learned a lot from being around the men and getting to see how they work…so I think I was ready for the U-18 tournament,” Rosen said. “Of course I’ve looked at Victor Oloffson because his release is something else and I’ve tried to learn from that.”
“I like to watch Elias Petersen (Vancouver) who plays in many situations. I’m not the biggest guy, but I play very hard and am a really good skater both with the puck and without the puck.”