Welcome to another prospect profile here at AATJ! Today, we are going to dive into one of the top defenders available in the 2021 Draft, Canadian LHD Owen Power. With the top of the draft being so fluid and flexible, and analysts having many differences in the tops of their draft boards, he is ranked all over in the top 10. However, he realistically could go #1, and many analysts think he will be the top pick off the board come draft night. At this point, when I research, he seems to be the consensus #1. However, it is far from a sure bet at this point, and he could also go to the New Jersey Devils at #4, so it is worth getting to know who he is.
And in essence, he is a beast. He is Canadian born and raised, hailing from Mississauga and growing up through their system. However, unlike most top Canadian prospects, he did not enter their major junior system, where he would have been eligible to join the OHL. He was drafted by the Flint Firebirds in the 2018 OHL priority draft, but opted instead to come to the States, where he played 2 seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. This past year, he went the collegiate route, and played as a freshman for the University of Michigan. Now, with a year of college hockey under his belt already, he is poised to be a top pick and produce in the NHL sooner than later.
Who is Owen Power?
Power is a very large 18 year old prospect for the NHL, listed at 6’5” and weighing 214 pounds according to Elite Prospects. And considering that he is only 18, he will gain more weight on that tall frame and will undoubtedly turn into one of the taller, bigger defenders in the league one day should he pan out. Considering that you cannot teach size, you have to think that he will go extremely high because if a team has two defenders high on their draft board, they will probably choose Power first because of his size. Even if they think another defender is slightly better at the moment, they might still choose Power because the coaching staff feels that they can coach up Power and make him better, and with that size, he could turn into the better player. Coaches have to be enticed by his size.
And with Power, the thing is that he is not just coveted because of his size, but also because he has played some great hockey. As I mentioned above, he eschewed the OHL and played two seasons instead for Chicago in the USHL, and was a force there. His rookie year there in 2018-19, he had 25 points in 58 games, 11 of those coming as goals. Those are quality numbers for a first year forward in junior hockey, never mind a defender. Then in 2019-20 as a 16/17 year old, he took his game to another level, especially on offense, producing 40 points in 45 games, nearly a point per game pace from the blue line. He had 12 goals that season to go along with 28 assists. Again, for a 17 year old forward, those are numbers leading to a potential first round selection. Power is a defenseman.
This past season, he entered the collegiate ranks for Michigan, and despite being a freshman playing a lot against upperclassmen, he held his own with 16 points in 26 games. He was good enough to earn Big Ten All-Rookie Team honors, as well as a spot on the Big Ten Second All-Star Team. And this was on a very strong Michigan squad that ended the season ranked 8 before having to forfeit in the tournament due to Covid concerns. Like when he went to the USHL, the jump in level did not seem to hamper him much, and if the growth from year 1 to year 2 in the USHL is any indication, expect a nice jump in production in his sophomore season at Michigan. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him continue to produce forward-like points from the blue line. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him wearing the A on his sweater for the school sooner than later.
Where is Power Ranked?
Again, with the top of the draft board being more in flux, it isn’t like years past where you might see a small fluctuation of a few draft positions for a top guy. Like last year, Alexander Holtz was generally ranked anywhere from picks 5-9, and the majority had him going picks 5-7. It was a fairly well-defined top of the draft board. This year, it has a larger spread, which makes things rather interesting, although overall, you will tend to see Power as one of the higher ranked guys on the list except in a few circumstances. Can he make it to the Devils at 4? You might think it less likely, and I would tend to agree, but there’s so much unknown in the top 10 at this point, so it isn’t certain. Power is for sure among the favorites to go #1, but Buffalo also took Rasmus Dhalin at #1 a few years ago. Do they want to go defense yet again with the top pick?
-Central Scouting, with their final rankings, has Power as the #1 North American skater, which is a strong mark in his favor in terms of being drafted higher than some of the other top prospects.
-Elite Prospects has him as the #4 ranked player, and the third ranked North American player, behind Beniers, Eklund, and Clarke.
-Future Considerations has him as the #6 ranked player and the fourth ranked NA player after Hughes, Beniers and Clarke, and behind two Europeans as well, Eklund and Edvinsson.
-At McKeen’s, Power is ranked #2, behind only Beniers, which also puts him as the top defender on their board.
-Dobber Prospects has not had an updated ranking since early March, but at that point, they had Power ranked #9 overall, the lowest you will see him ranked as far as I have seen.
-Sportsnet, on the other hand, had Power ranked #1 in their May rankings.
-The Draft Analyst also has him ranked #1 in his final May rankings heading into the draft.
-The Hockey Writers, in May rankings from Andrew Forbes, has Power ranked #2, behind only Beniers.
-Craig Button at TSN has Power ranked #1 in his May rankings.
-Bob McKenzie has rankings from April still, but he agrees with Button and has Power #1 overall.
What Others Have Said About Power
The Last Word on Sports had their scouting report on Power’s game back in April that I suggest you check out. Here are some snippets that I found interesting about what Ben Kerr had to say about each part of Owen’s game.
-Skating: “he is a very good skater without the sive caveat.”...”his agility and edgework help him to keep the play in front of him. Strong, quick pivots allow Power to transition quickly from offence to defence.”
-Offensive Game: “very good vision and passing skills”...”transitions well through the neutral zone but is not the type to try to take the puck himself”...”has a decent slap shot but could continue to work on his power.”
-Defensive Game: “smart player who reads the play well and is well-positioned”...”willing to play a physical game in the corners and in front of the net”...”plays a disciplined game”
-Projection and Comparison: “all the tools to be a number one defenceman”...”some question about how high his ceiling is, as most of his traits are very good, but not excellent”...”there are not many weaknesses in his game” Stylistic comparison: Victor Hedman
Overall, Kerr is very high on Power, and expects him to be a top pick, perhaps number one, but not definitively. He has some areas to work on, like improving his slap shot and growing his frame, but overall, projects to be a top pairing guy.
The Draft Analyst, Steve Kournianos, had his scouting report on Power all the way back at the end of February, and even then, he was incredibly high on him and his game. Again, here are snippets of what he wrote about each aspect of his game, although I encourage you to read the entire report.
-Skating and Stickhandling: “excellent skater in all directions for a defender of any size”...”movements are fluid and pivots are effortless”...”can put the perfect touch on any pass over any distance in any situation.”
-Shooting, Passing, and Playmaking: “uses a hard, low slapper or quick, heavy wrister from the high point”...”is not a fire-and-forget shooter who unloads every chance he gets”...”his head is always up”...”his first pass is clean and on the tape.”
-Defense and Physicality: “impact on his side of the red line is driven by his smarts”...”has the reputation of a defender who won’t get beaten inside or out without a serious fight”...”utilizes his size and stick to impact both strong and weak sides without getting in the goalie’s way.”
-Hockey Sense: “has revealed his high hockey IQ multiple times in one shift”...”reads a forecheck as well as any young defenseman”...”there isn’t a shred of indecisiveness in Power’s puck carrying or puck handling.”
To end, I will just quote Steve’s projection, which says it all: “Top-pairing, franchise-caliber defenseman for all situations. He’s going to be a good one.”
Dobber Prospects had a couple of small write ups about Power in February and March by Tony Ferrari. He had some tidbits about his game in February, writing things like “possesses the size and strength combination that scouts and coaches dream of” and “the highlights of Power’s game are tantalizing.” However, he is not all positives either, as he notes that “there are times when Power panics when dealing with pressure and he loses the dynamic element as he resorts to glass and out dump ins or over handling the puck without moving his feet.” But overall, from his February notes, he writes that he “will still likely be the number one player on many boards this year because the upside truly could be special.” He reiterates this in his March update after Michigan had to back out of the playoff tournament, writing that he “should be in the conversation at first overall.” So even with some flaws, given the draft class and Power’s huge upside, he has the chance to be #1.
The Hockey Writers had their profile up on Power back in April. Perhaps the best praise you can give of a top defensive prospect, Matthew Zator writes that Power “has all the attributes of a minute-munching top-pairing defenceman who can play upwards of 30 minutes a night.” That really is what any coach has to want out of a top defensive prospect. Eat minutes, play top-pairing defense well, and keep my team in the game. However, Power also has the offense to go along with that, as Zator says, “with his offensive smarts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play the role of power forward one day and dominate the game like Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns.”
However, Power isn’t without his flaws, as no prospect is in this draft. However, it is generally minimized with him. As noted, “his defensive game is still a work in progress, but that weakness does not rear its head very often.” Considering he played in college this past season, that is a good sign, as he was playing a lot of minutes against older players, whereas if he were in the OHL, his opponents would be more his age. However, if a team is looking for a more defensively sound defender, they will not be as high on this kid initially.
Overall, THW have a very high grade on Power. They give him a 1/5 on risk and a 5/5 on potential, and note that he “has unlimited potential in the NHL...Basically, the sky is the limit.”
A Little Video
Here is a decently long (almost 9 minute) highlight package from this past season at the University of Michigan as well as from his time in the USHL. You will see a lot of offense, but also some sound defensive plays mixed in there:
Another highlight package from both Chicago and Michigan, this one about half the length as the other:
Here are some highlights specifically from his time in the NCAA this past season:
The last highlight package I’ll put up:
My initial thought process, reinforced as I researched his game, is that if Owen Power is available at #4 when the Devils pick, they almost have to take him. The only player who consistently ranked as high or higher than Power on the lists I linked to, when Power was not ranked #1, was fellow Wolverine Matthew Beniers. However, Beniers is ranked as the #7 NA skater at Central Scouting, so he has his own flaws as well. And in the crazy chance that both are still available at 4, I would think that Power has the leg up in the eyes of Fitzgerald simply by position. The Devils have used high picks on forwards way more often recently, and the blue line is shallow as a result. There needs to be more talent on the back end, behind the likes of Ty Smith and Damon Severson. Owen Power would be a huge influx of talent in that position.
Power is great because he excels everywhere. He is a true offensive force, with a decent shot but great vision and a strong ability to quarterback a power play and set teammates up for goals. He might be a little weaker in his defensive game than offensive, as noted that he can sometimes panic in his own end, but he has also shown the ability to zone exit properly, and he has been praised for his ability to transition quickly from offense to defense and vice versa. And with his high hockey IQ to go along with his huge frame, he clearly has the ability to grow and develop into something great. Top pairing has to be the expectation for his game at the NHL level, and that would mean should he even underperform that somewhat, he could end up as a middle pairing guy regardless simply because of his size and vision. In that case, you’re still getting a minutes-eating guy who can contribute to your team night in and night out. That sounds like a solid floor to me.
That being said, if you ask me, I don’t think he is available when the Devils pick at 4th overall. And given how wide open the top of the draft board is with different players all being ranked somewhere in the top 5, I would not look to trade up for him either. If he falls to 4, I think he makes a very compelling case for the team at that spot, and I would very likely take him. The team needs his size and ability on defense. But I would not waste future draft capital to trade up and ensure you get him either. Take whoever falls to 4, whether it be Beniers, Luke Hughes, William Eklund, or whoever else the organization might like. Now, as I say that, I think back to the 2015 draft, when the Devils were in a similar position at 6 and liked Pavel Zacha more than the likes of Mathew Barzal or Mikko Rantanen. It doesn’t give me much hope that they will make the right decision. But if Power is there at 4, it is a no brainer, and would be a definite win for the New Jersey Devils in my opinion.
That is my take here. What do you think about Owen Power? Do you think he will be available at pick #4 when the Devils are on the clock? Or do you think he will go before that? Should he be the top overall pick this year? Why or why not? What do you like about his game, and what don’t you like? If he is available at 4, should the Devils take him no matter what, or are you more interested in someone else? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!