Owen Power is reportedly returning to Michigan for his second season. Power was selected first in the 2021 NHL draft in July, but The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski reported Thursday that the standout defender is officially putting his NHL debut on hold.
The move shouldn’t come as a surprise to Sabers fans. The power has pointed this out several times.
“Probably stay,” he said in an interview with the media after he was drafted. He also said he tended to stay in Ann Arbor, Michigan when asked prior to drafting during his availability.
“I think I can step in and play so I don’t think the decision will be whether I’m ready to play or not,” said Power as he donned the Sabers blue and gold. “I think it’s at the end of the day whether it’s better for my development or not.”
He also mentioned during his pre-draft media session that “my goal is to play another year and then be ready to play in the NHL.”
Off the ice, Power’s freshman semester was anything but normal due to COVID-19. He said a big reason for returning is to experience college the way it should be, with face-to-face classes and playing in front of Yost Arena believers.
On the ice, power was exceptional for head coach Mel Pearson’s squad. He was the Big Ten’s top rookie defender with 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games. The 6-5, 214-pound Mississauga, Ontario native was also named Rookie of the Year by College Hockey News and was a finalist for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Michigan’s season ended just hours before the game against Minnesota Duluth in the Midwest Region semifinals of the 2021 NCAA tournament due to COVID logs.
In May, Power traveled to Latvia and was a key member of Hockey Canada gold medalist. At just 18, he demonstrated tremendous composure patrolling Canada’s blue line and was assisted in key situations such as the waning minutes of regulation with the tied championship game.
MORE: Canada wins gold after starting 0-3
Going back to Michigan – though it’s a bit unprecedented as most of the No. 1 picks go to the NHL ranks – makes the most sense. The Sabers are a team that has difficulty figuring out itself (see: Jack Eichel; see: Rasmus Dahlin still not under contract; see: the team is building) and will probably fight for the top selection again in 2022.
On the other hand, the Wolverines are expected to be a powerhouse in 2021-22. Power is making headlines over a roster that could potentially include five first-round picks in 2021: Matty Beniers (chosen second by the Kraken), Luke Hughes (fourth by the Devils), Kent Johnson (fifth by the Blue Jackets) and Mackie Samoskevich ( No. 24 from the Panthers). The team also includes the outstanding US hockey stars Thomas Bordeleau (Sharks second round pick in 2020), Brendan Brisson (29th overall in 2020 from the Golden Knights) and Johnny Beecher (Bruins first round pick in 2019).
Power will most likely sign with the Sabers at the end of Michigan’s campaign – and what better way to do that than with an NCAA title and maybe a Hobey Bakerm in hand.