Sabres select Michigan D Power with No. 1 pick

The Buffalo Sabres selected University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the first pick in the NHL Draft on Friday night.

Power, 18, was the No. 1 ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. His selection marks just the fourth time in NHL history that an NCAA player has gone first overall, joining forward Joe Murphy (1986, Detroit Red Wings), goalie Rick DiPietro (2000, New York Islanders) and defenseman Erik Johnson (2006, St. Louis Blues).

The 6-foot-6 defenseman is the second blueliner the Sabres have taken first overall in the last four drafts, joining 2018 No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin. Power is just the third defenseman to be drafted first overall since 2007.

Power played 26 games for Michigan as a freshman last season, tallying 16 points. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, he appeared in 10 games for Team Canada at the IIHF world championships, playing alongside NHL players. His mobility and size have earned him comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning star Victor Hedman.

“He’s coachable. He always wants more information. He never ever thinks he’s above anything. He just wants more and more and more so he can study and become better, and become great,” said Ryan Hardy, who was the general manager of the USHL Chicago Steel when Power played for them. “When you have that mindset with that frame? This is the Owen Power draft. I don’t think a lot of people know how good he is.”

When Power might show up to play for the Sabres hasn’t been determined yet. The defenseman said that, ideally, he’d like to return to Michigan for at least a year after his first season there was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s one of the big parts of why I want to go back to school. To experience the true college experience at Michigan, especially at Yost [arena] with the fans there and everything. To go to classes and not do everything online. To be able to do stuff besides go to the rink and then go home,” he said.

Michigan was expected to set a record in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night. No NCAA team had ever had three current players taken in the first round.

Wolverines teammates Power, center Matty Beniers and center Kent Johnson were all projected to go in the first round.

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