No. 1 pick Owen Power will indeed return to Michigan next season: Report

RIGA, LATVIA – JUNE 05: Owen Power #25 of Canada in action during the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Semi Final game between USA and Canada at Arena Riga on June 5, 2021 in Riga, Latvia. Canada defeated the United States 4-2. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

Owen Power will let the dust settle.

According to Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News, the No. 1-overall draft selection of the Buffalo Sabres will return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season instead of making the jump to the NHL ranks. 

It’s an unconventional decision from Power, but likely the correct one. He will be the first No. 1-overall draft selection not to graduate into the NHL since 2006, when Erik Johnson stuck around for one more season at the University of Minnesota. Power is likely talented enough to make the leap, but the bleak prospects of the Sabres’ season, plus the difficult circumstances surrounding development over the last 18 months as hockey grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, are both valid reasons to delay the arrival and pursue one more year of hockey seasoning. 

Power capped his draft season in an incredibly impressive fashion, logging major minutes for Hockey Canada at its gold-medal triumph at the World Championships. He grew into the role under Gerard Gallant after starting the tournament as a spare part for the Team Canada coaching staff. His role in the championship side seemed to secure his spot as the No. 1 selection, if not illustrated pretty clearly that he could hang at the NHL level.

At Michigan, Power scored three goals and tallied 16 points in 26 games. Turning 19 in November, Power should put up monster numbers as a sophomore next season.

Buffalo is still dealing with the elephant in the room as the Jack Eichel saga continues deep into summer. Aside from that, Kevyn Adams did well to strip down the Sabres’ roster to the bone, trading Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen for futures assets, while also losing Linus Ullmark and Jake McCabe, among others, in free agency. 

Suffice it to say, the conditions Power would have been stepping into are far from ideal. 

Michigan, meanwhile, is considered a favourite for the national title.

Harkening back to the 2014-15 and Connor McDavid’s draft season, the Sabres are competing with the Arizona Coyotes, only, for the title as the NHL’s worst team and pole position in the race for another No. 1 prospect, 2022-eligible Shane Wright.

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