BOSTON – When news broke on Friday that Owen Power had signed a junior contract with the Buffalo Sabers, Kevin Adams received an onslaught of text messages from the team’s players.
In Florida preparing for a game against the Panthers, Sibers wanted to know when their new teammate was due to arrive and how they could congratulate him on starting a professional career.
“They wanted to get in touch with him,” Adams, the club’s general manager, said during a video conference call. “It tells me a lot about what this group is about. And you know how excited they are to welcome it.”
The hype surrounding Bauer’s arrival intensified late Thursday night when his season ended with Michigan’s devastating overtime loss to Denver at Frozen Four at TD Park in Boston. And it will increase in the coming days, as Power is expected to join the Sabers on Saturday in Tampa, Florida, and is tentatively scheduled to make his NHL debut Tuesday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. The Scotiabank Arena is just a short drive from his family’s home in Mississauga, Ont.
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“We’re really looking forward to him joining us here soon,” striker Jeff Skinner said after the Cypresses’ 4-3 loss to Florida. “Obviously there is a lot of excitement and there has to be him. He will be a great player for us. We are excited for him.”
The final few weeks of Sabers’ season will be Power’s preview of his NHL career. He returned to Michigan – the first draft option to wait to become a professional since Eric Johnson in 2006 – to win a national championship as a sophomore and try a regular college hockey season after the Covid-19 pandemic prevented him from playing front with large crowds as a freshman. Now, he will join the young, flowering core of Sabers that have made great strides during the second half of the season.
“It’s a proud day for our organization,” Adams added. “We definitely believe in Owen and his abilities on and off the ice, just the person he is. You’ve heard me talk over and over about the culture and what we’re building here and he’s an amazing person, human just the way he carries himself. He treats people so well. We’re excited just because he’s joining this The group and come to be himself. He can just come in and play. He doesn’t have to feel the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
The season went brilliantly with Bauer, scoring three goals and 32 points in 33 games. He received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and led the Wolverines to the Conference Championship title. In between, he represented Power Canada at the Beijing Winter Olympics, leading the team in average time on the ice per game. Prior to the sudden cancellation of the IIHF World Junior Championships, Power became the first defender from Canada to achieve a hat-trick in the tournament when he achieved the feat in the opening match.
The force will enter the NHL with high expectations, but he will not be asked to take on a heavy workload or enormous responsibilities right away. He will feature fellow No1 Rasmus Dahlin and Matthias Samuelsson on the left side, which will allow coach Don Granato to use Power in specific situations to aid his development.
“It’s going to bring some new energy and I’ve only heard good things about it,” Dahlin said. “We are very excited to have him. He will probably freshen my mind with some attacking play. He will be a great piece for our squad.”
The club’s depth of defense chart also includes Henry Joqueharjo, Jacob Bryson, Casey Fitzgerald, Mark Pesek, Colin Miller and Will Butcher. Adams spoke to Dahlin on Wednesday about his role in helping Power adapt to the NHL.
“I really think Owen, moving on, Rasmus has gone through it,” Adams told The Buffalo News at The Frozen Four. “He’s young, but Rasmus has made big strides and he’s a captain. You have that group with him, Samulson, Jukiharjo, Bryson. They’re young players, but Owen can just come in and play. A man by your side in the locker room in that situation, that helps with that transition. “.
The strength comes with experience against older players, as he also represented Canada at the World Championships last spring. He started the tournament in a deep role before climbing to the top pair, leading the club in an icy average time per game as the team won the gold medal. Back to school also allowed Power more time to mature on and off the ice. He became a much better defensive man by displaying his improved instincts in the attack area and prowess in fore-checking near his net.
In the Frozen Four’s overtime loss for Michigan, Bauer skated with three different defense partners, including Luke Hughes, and played on the right with a penalty kick. He seems to have taken every other shift late in the organization and during overtime.
“It’s unbelievable that you’re around him all the time, just because of the time he’s in the game, his commitment to the game and the love he has in the game,” said Michigan goalkeeper Eric Portillo, a potential Sabers player. “But also, I think he’s already made strides for being the first D-class man.
“You can trust him, you feel so good when he’s there.”
A memorable season for the Power and Michigan Wolverines ended Thursday night with a 3-2 loss in overtime to Denver at the Frozen Four at TD Garden.
There was no doubt that Power would finish with college hockey after his sophomore season. Regardless of the Michigan championship results, Power planned to join Buffalo at the conclusion of the Michigan season. But the timing of his arrival is perfect for him and the Saber.
The club has shown significant growth on the ice since returning to full health, setting a record 8-3-3 in March marked by victories over Toronto, Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver and Pittsburgh. The Cypress’ eight-game winning streak from March 8 through April 1 was the longest since the 10-game winning streak in November 2018.
The drought in the franchise’s pre-qualifiers reached 11 seasons, but expectations haven’t been this bright in some time. Their potential gathering in Rochester would boost significantly if Adams could sign Portillo and Minnesota defenseman Ryan Johnson, a 31st-ranked rookie in 2019. But Power would enter the NHL immediately, bolstering a vastly improved defense corps with the development of Dahlin and Samuelsson, in particular.
“He’s got an incredible amount of fit-to-size traits,” Cypress coach Don Granato said of Power, who is 6-foot-6. “Obviously the size is his height now, but he will continue to gain strength and more strength. … He is incredibly calm in his game, he can slow down and dictate speed. But again, in fairness to him, he will have time. It will take time like All other great players to adapt to this level.Never experienced it,although it has the advantage of having men’s world championship and playing with men,the snow is different paper.It’s a different game,NHL is NHL,the highest level.And it will be fun to watch And he’s going through the process.”
Sports news writer Mike Harrington contributed to this report.