Fantasy Hockey

Power signs contract with Sabers and was first pick in 2021 draft

Owen Powerthe No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

The 19-year-old defenseman will join the Sabers in Tampa on Saturday before Buffalo’s game at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and is expected to make his NHL debut at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, general manager Kevyn Adams said.

Power was born in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ontario.

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“It’s a proud day for our organization,” Adams said. “We certainly believe in Owen and his abilities both on and off the ice, just the person he is. You’ve heard me talk time and time again about the culture and what we’re building here and that is a phenomenal person, a human being, just the way he carries himself. He treats people well. We’re so excited to have him join this group and come in and be himself.

Adams said there would be no expectations placed on Power other than him playing to his strengths.

“We’ll be having conversations over the next two or three days, myself, Owen and the coaching staff, and we’ll just make sure we put him in a position to succeed and also help him breathe and realizing that he can just be himself,” Adams said. “He doesn’t have to feel the weight of the world or anything, stress or pressure. He can just be in a band and just play. I think it’s going to shake, honestly. But I do think it’s an important moment for him to feel the League and see what it’s all about.”

As a sophomore this season at the University of Michigan, Power scored 32 points (three goals, 29 assists) in 33 games.

In two seasons with Michigan, he scored 48 points (six goals, 42 assists) in 59 games.

Michigan’s season ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to Denver in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals in Boston on Thursday.

Adams said he spoke to Power and his agent after the game, and those conversations led to the signing of the contract on Friday.

“We definitely had conversations, going back even before we drafted Owen,” Adams said. “We interviewed him and spoke to his representatives. We were well aware of his feelings and his plan of what he would like to do this season. … But we have also been very open and honest in our communication that we felt that when the time was right he would join us, and that’s what we worked towards. I wanted to make sure that from our point of view, as an organization, we were very supportive of him this year we were constantly communicating, between me and the staff and the player development staff, but we also wanted to make sure we were respectful, giving him the ability to stay focused, stay present and really be able to put it all there where he was, which was the University of Michigan, and he did it. So it’s great for him and now it’s time to do it with us.”

Power had five points (three goals, two assists) in two games for Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship before the tournament was postponed after three days due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. In his first game, he became the first Canadian defenseman to score a hat trick in a 6-3 win over the Czech Republic.

He also had an assist and a plus-2 differential while playing an average ice time of 21:38, Canada’s best in five games at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Although Power could have competed for a spot with the Sabers this season, Adams said it was beneficial for him to have followed the development path he did.

“He played huge minutes, the best team in [NCAA hockey], had the chance to go to the World Juniors,” said Adams. “Even though it ended abruptly, he still put up a pretty good cachet in a short space of time by scoring a hat trick there. I had the chance to go to the Olympics. I think at the end of the day it’s been a great year of development for him because, whatever his talent, he’s still a young player and we want to continue to help him improve and set him up for success. So I’m really proud of how he’s performed this season on and off the ice and I’m thrilled to have him in the Sabres uniform. »

Power’s teammate, striker Kent Johnsonthe No. 5 pick in the 2021 draft, signed a three-year entry contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

NHL.com Independent Correspondent Heather Engel contributed to this report