Draft season is upon us, the people have spoken, and we’re kicking off our Community Draft Board coverage with a decidedly exciting defenseman. Owen Power, hello!
Power, a big left shot defenseman, just wrapped up his freshman season with the University of Michigan, where he played with our old pal Cam York. He finished the season with 16 points in 26 games, good for fourth in scoring among defensemen in the Big Ten and seventh among all freshman skaters. The transition to the college level took a little bit of work, but Power put it together in a big way as the season went on, and was a distinct high point on an already very good and fun Wolverines team.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 1: Owen Power
Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Statistics: 3 G, 13 A in 26 GP
No. 1 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 6 by Future Considerations
No. 9 by Dobber Prospects
No. 1 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
Okay, we’ll start with the obvious—Owen Power is a big kid. He’s listed at 6’5” and 214 pounds, and he just turned 18 back in November. And while he’s not a player who overly relies on that size to be effective, it certainly helps, as he’s able to build speed well with his long stride, and combined with a good instinct for it, use the extra length from his stick to break up plays before they become too dangerous.
That skating, too, is a strong point in his game. He isn’t an absolute burner, but his speed is still quite good (it’s helped along by that long stride, as we said). He accelerates well and is able to catch up on the rush easily, with a stride that looks smooth and effortless. And this is a major asset to his game in a number of ways, helping on the defensive side as he’s able to pick up speed and gap up well to disrupt plays on the rush, while also being able to push play positively for his team with his impact in transition.
Speaking of transition, he was Michigan’s best defender in it. Per my tracking, Power graded out as the team’s most consistent generator of controlled zone exits—with 118 successful exits in 22 games tracked, Power made 41 successful breakout passes and 52 carry-outs, which is good for a 79.66 Controlled Exit%, which is stellar on its own, but also well above the already quite good team average of 66.36 percent.
The eye also tells us about his particular penchant for making the end to end play when he sees (or can make) space for it, being that once he gets moving he’s hard to stop and push off the puck, and the numbers support that: he’s posted a 66.27 Controlled Entry Percentage. He was averaging 3.77 successful entries per game, and 1.86 carry-ins, both solid figures and indicators of a confidence of play.
Unsurprisingly, this tells us that Power also pretty quickly asserted himself as a strong puck mover at the college level this season. He has an excellent first pass, and is able to make both solid, quick passes in tight, as well as a crisp stretch pass on a breakout, which has been a great boost to that transition game, as we mentioned. We saw this working well for him at 5-on-5, as tracked, but also on the power play, as he looked solid distributing from the point on Michigan’s second power play unit.
For more on his offensive game, he doesn’t generate a ton in the way of individual offense (like someone like Cam York), but he does still have good offensive instincts that we’ve seen in flashes, and skill enough to make a play while activating and still find some positive results. He has a hard, accurate shot, and he’s shown a good aptitude for getting shots through traffic from the point. But he’s also a threat when activated on the rush or in the offensive zone. And while he has created some nice chances when activating lower in the offensive zone, what’s perhaps even more impressive about this is how often this doesn’t come at the expense of his defensive game—there are moments when you see him activating offensively and you’re wondering who’s been left to cover for him, but then it doesn’t really matter, no one needs to, because somehow he always ends up getting back when he needs to, so often ends up back exactly where he needs to be. And that makes him a real threat, all around.
Additionally, while he didn’t serve as one of Michigan bulk generator of chances, his teammates still drove play quite well when Power was on the ice. Across a ten game sample that I tracked, with Power on the ice at 5-on-5, the team averaged a 58.36 Corsi-For%, a 68.81 Scoring Chances-For%, and a 65.57 High Danger Chances-For%, which is all to say that Michigan was getting the better of the share of total shot attempts as well as more dangerous scoring chances when Power was on the ice by a very good margin.
It is worth noting that those totals are below the team’s (frankly absurd) 61.33 CF%, 68.96 SCF%, and 66.50 HDCF% averages, but in this case, that feels like a difficult thing to be too fussed about—as we said, the Wolverines were still winning their matchups by quite a comfortable margin with Power on the ice, and he was flexing that dominance as a 17/18 year old freshman. It was decidedly impressive work.
And finally, in more recent news, Power was invited to participate in the IIHF Mens’ World Championship in Latvia over the last few weeks, where the team just won gold. Power started the tournament penciled in lower on the depth chart, but steadily worked himself up into a much more significant role—by the final game, he played 24:17 and didn’t look out of place in the least competing against men at the international level. Not a bad addition to the resume.
What’s not to like?
There are a couple of smaller pieces that we’d like to see him work to build in his game. For one, for as big as he is, he could still stand to get a bit stronger. He improved as the season went on, but there were still moments when we saw him outmuscled on plays where he looked like he should have gotten the better of his opponent. We’re not too fussed about that, considering his age, but it’s worth noting.
Additionally, while we mentioned that his straight line speed is good and his stride is smooth, his edges on pivots could use a bit of work, which would in turn improve his overall quickness and in-tight play.
But the larger issue that a number of scouts have pointed to is in his decision making—at times he’s been susceptible to pressure and has made a hasty play, or made a questionable read and gotten himself into some trouble. His defense partner for most of this season, Nick Blankenburg, has been of the decidedly steadier defensively variety, and he’s certainly helped put out some fires, which was good. But there have still been some fires, and that’s concerned some scouts.
Now, that said, in my viewings over the whole of Michigan’s season, I think the concerns have been a bit overblown. Does he make mistakes sometimes? Absolutely, undeniably. But it’s not catastrophic and his game seemed to be cleaned up more as the season went on and he adjusted more to the pace of play at the NCAA level. And that’s all to say that it’s reasonable to expect that we’re going to see him experiences some growing pains when he eventually graduates from the college to AHL or NHL level, and it’s not always going to be pretty, but he does still have the capability to make the necessary adjustments, instead of just getting stuck, trying to do too much, and spiraling.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
This is sort of an interesting question. On the one hand, the Flyers are pretty well stocked with LHD who project into a top-4 role, between Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim already at the NHL level, and Cam York and Egor Zamula in the pipeline, so the numbers game gets a little complicated there.
But, that said, it’s really hard to picture yourself as the Flyers with the opportunity in front of them to draft Power, thinking about their struggles this season to break the puck out, their abysmal power play, and the overall disaster that was their defense corps, and then looking at Power and saying “we have too many bodies on defense, we’ll pass.” If you have a player of this caliber in reach, you take them and figure out the rest later.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
No. It’s a pretty hard no here. Some draft rankings have him ranked as low as fifth or so (though I don’t anticipate him going that low), but even if chaos took over and he did fall that far, that’s still well outside of the range that the Flyers could reasonably be expected to move up into. Power is out of their reach *sad trombone noise*
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell), Västerås IK (HockeyAllesvenskan), Frölunda HC (SHL) — 1 G, 5 A in 14 GP (J20 Nationell). 0 G, 5 A in 14 GP (HockeyAllsvenskan). 0 G, 1 A in 10 GP (SHL).
Edvinsson is a long, four-way mobile defender with borderline-elite side-to-side puck control skill and uncanny confidence. His ability to escape pressure inside his own zone and hold attack past layers inside the offensive zone is extremely rare for a defender his size. He can occasionally get himself into trouble trying to make a late play after hanging onto it for too long, instead of the early available one, so there’s some refining that will need to happen with his choices to calm him down out there. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Who should be no. 2 on the 2021 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)