Owen Power possesses dynamic talent. ©2021, Michigan Photography, TNS

NHL Draft: Sabres could land Hedman-type defenseman with Owen Power

Ex-NHL defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo knew Owen Power, the 18-year-old the Buffalo Sabres are expected to select first overall at the NHL Draft on Friday, was a special prospect.

Still, hulking defensemen in their teens – at 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds, Power already possesses a man’s body – are usually at least a little raw.

So when Colaiacovo watched Power earlier this month at the Power Edge Pro camp in Toronto, the up-close examination changed his perspective on the youngster.

“Usually when you see guys that big, you see rough around the edges, right?” said Colaiacovo, a TSN analyst who also co-hosts “First Up” on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto. “But there’s no rough around the edges with this guy. This guy skates like Paul Coffey and he handles the puck like Victor Hedman and even like (Nicklas) Lidstrom. It’s incredible, it’s absolutely incredible. I was blown away.”

After one live viewing, Colaiacovo saw the talents of three of the greatest defensemen in NHL history in Power, who has played one season at Michigan.

Power often earns comparisons to the 6-foot-6 Hedman, a Norris Trophy winner who captured his second consecutive Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this month.

Ex-Lightning general manager Brian Lawton, who drafted Hedman second overall in 2009, also sees qualities of the Swede in Power.

“Having made the decision on Victor Hedman, it’s a powerful thing,” said Lawton, who will be analyzing the draft Friday and Saturday on NHL Network. “You got a guy that can play those types of minutes that’s as light on his feet as he is that has the size he has already.”

Lawton, the first overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1983, expects the Sabres will draft Power.

“If for some chance they don’t make that decision, then boy, I’d like to interview them for a half an hour and ask them why,” he said. “But stranger things have happened. You never know.”

When Brock Sheahan joined the Chicago Steel as an assistant coach in 2018, he started watching highlights of Power, who was drafted by the junior United States Hockey League team that year.

“Two clips in, I was like, ‘OK, I hope to God we get this guy,’” said Sheahan, who took over as the Steel’s head coach during the 2019-20 season.

Of course, Power, given his myriad talents, could’ve played anywhere he wanted. Many Canadian teenagers might’ve chosen to play major junior hockey at home.

“He’s kind of done things a little bit differently,” Sheahan said. “An Ontario kid that came down to the USHL, a highly touted kid to come down and go about it in a different way, go to college.”

He added: “When he committed to come play for us as a 15-year-old, I was just so excited to work with somebody (like that).”

In those first clips Sheahan watched of Power, he saw the same things as Colaiacovo and Lawton: a smooth-skating big man with terrific edge work.

Sheahan also noticed Power had supreme vision and an ability to see things other players couldn’t.

“Like he’s playing from above,” Sheahan said. “I thought (that) was pretty cool.”

To Sheahan, Power is “a complete defenseman.”

“He’s not just an offensive defenseman, he’s not just a defender – he’s both,” he said. “He’s elite at both. It’s just very rare in today’s game.”

It’s also rare a player likely to be drafted first overall would want to return to college. But Power has indicated he’s leaning toward spending one more year in school.

Thirty-eight years ago, Lawton had committed to play college hockey at Providence and was considering representing Team USA at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.

After the North Stars learned Lawton, who was drafted out of high school, was toying with the Olympics, they squashed that dream.

“I was basically told I would never play in the NHL then,” Lawton said. “It’s a different world (today).”

Lawton, who scored 10 goals and 31 points in 51 games as an 18-year-old NHL rookie, hopes Power returns to the Wolverines.

“That would be fabulous for him, in my opinion,” he said. “There’s no rush to get there. I was all wrong of my views and understanding of what was going on. Having been around the game a lot longer, played, everything else, just because you’re picked first doesn’t mean you have to play right away.”

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