Mississauga’s Owen Power returning to Michigan, deferring NHL debut in Buffalo: report


Published August 20, 2021 at 1:46 am


Look for Owen Power with either a block-M or a maple leaf on his chest this coming hockey season, instead of the Buffalo Sabres’ crest.

The 18-year-old Mississauga hockey star, whom the Sabres selected with the No. 1 overall choice in last month’s National Hockey League entry draft, will evidently return to the Michigan Wolverines of Big Ten college hockey. The Buffalo News reported on Thursday (Aug. 19) that Power will return to Michigan and sign his first NHL contract after the conclusion of the hockey season. Neither the Sabres nor Michigan had confirmed Power’s plans, the newspaper said.

Power, a 6-foot-6, 213-pound playmaking defenceman, would be the rare No. 1 pick who did not immediately play in the NHL without being affected by a lockout. In 2006, the St. Louis Blues selected fellow defenceman Erik Johnson with the top pick from the United States national team development program, but Johnson played a season with the Wisconsin Badgers before signing with St. Louis.

Young defencemen are generally believed to have a longer development arc than centres and wings. Taller players can take longer to add NHL-requisite muscle mass and skating ability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited Power to 81 games across the last two seasons, which is one fewer contest than an entire NHL regular season. After Michigan’s season ended, Power played for Canada’s  gold medal-winning team in the IIHF world men’s hockey championship in the spring. The season prior, he played for the Chicago Steel of the United States league, where he was named the league’s top defenceman and helped them win the regular-season championship.

Returning to Michigan means Power will be eligible to join Team Canada for the 2020 world junior hockey championship, which will take place in Edmonton over the Christmas holidays for the second season in a row. Participation of NHL players at the 2022 Beijing Olympics is unfinalized, so there is a possibility Power would be in Hockey Canada’s player pool of outside-the-NHL talent for either the Olympics or world championship. The worlds will be held in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland, next May.

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