TAMPA, Fla. (WKBW) — After 33 games in Michigan's maize and blue, Owen Power will don blue and gold for the end of the 2021-22 hockey season. It's been a whirlwind for Power, though. After losing at the Frozen Four on Thursday, he was on the ground with the Sabres before the NCAA Championship was even played.
The last thing the Buffalo Sabres want to do is rush their first overall pick. That played into why Power went back to Ann Arbor for his sophomore season. But now that the prize of last summer is in the building, the anticipation is building.
"We discussed some things that are important moving forward, and I'm just excited. I think we're all excited to move forward," head coach Don Granato said. "We see this team progressing and we see him as a big part of that progression. And he's finally here."
Despite joining the team in the Sunshine State, Power will have to wait until the Sabres back up north to make his NHL debut. The first overall pick did it all for the Michigan Wolverines this season, and is combining that versatility with a willingness to do so when he finally suits up for a game.
"I mean anywhere they can put me, I'd be happy to play," Power said. "I mean, I've talked to them about playing the right side. I don't mind it. I mean this year I played mostly on the left, but I think there are some advantages to the right side and some disadvantages to the right side. So I don't mind either way."
The depth chart on the left side boasts more offensive prowess and more youth than the right. Rasmus Dahlin and Jacob Bryson often occupy that side. The left-handed Will Butcher plays the "off" side when called upon. And Mattias Samuelsson has emerged as a physical, shutdown option for Buffalo.
But in addition to his +27 rating at Michigan, Power added nearly a point per game with three goals and 29 assists in 33 games. So the best way to unlock his full potential on the attack might be to play him on his "off" side.
"I think just offensively, your stick is in the middle," Power said. "So it's easier to get to the middle and just have more options... I think that's probably the biggest thing."
In addition to his time in Ann Arbor on the left side, that was normally Power's home when he donned red and black for Team Canada. In the last 12 months, he's played in the IIHF World Championship, IIHF World Juniors, and the Winter Olympics.
"It just gives me a little bit more confidence coming in knowing that I've played against pro guys in those tournaments. I think those tournaments have been great for me to see where I'm at with the pro guys."
"He's not a player out of junior hockey that doesn't have that experience playing in huge situations," "He has that. He got those opportunities because of the work he did prior. Obviously a talented guy, but the work he did... I think he's well prepared for [the NHL]."
Power's chance to showcase all of that preparation could come in front of a hometown crowd. The Mississauga native is expected to play his first game with the Sabres when Buffalo visits the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"I think everyone's first game in the NHL is obviously really special. But to have it in my hometown with all of my family there, it's going to be that much better," Power said. "I think I got my mom figuring [tickets] out."
The Power family, along with the entire Sabres fan base, can keep an eye out for number 25 on Tuesday night. Buffalo visits the Maple Leafs on April 12 at 7:00 p.m.