Owen Power, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, said he ‘would love to be a part’ of the Buffalo Sabres.
“Nice and close to home,” Power told TSN on Friday. “I know they’ve got a rich history. It would be an honor to play for them and to get drafted by them.”
The Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery on June 2 and could select the University of Michigan defenseman, who is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. The Seattle Kraken, who begin play next season, won the No. 2 pick.
The first round is July 23 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW); rounds 2-7 are July 24 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN NOW).
Power grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, which is less than 90 miles from Buffalo. He interviewed with the Sabres for the first time Thursday.
“Yeah, I would love to be a part of it,” the 18-year-old said.
Buffalo was 15-34-7 and finished last in the NHL last season. They did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 10th straight season.
Power previously said he plans to return to Michigan next season. If he does, he could sign an entry-level contract and play in the NHL next season after his college season is complete.
“I think both options are good options and I don’t think you can really go wrong,” he said. “So I feel like I’m in a good spot where if I do sign or if I go back, I’m making a good decision either way. … I’m confident in myself that if I was to sign this season I’d be able to jump in the [NHL] and play a full season. Whether or not that’s the best decision, I still don’t know.”
The last player chosen No. 1 to not play in the NHL the following season was Erik Johnson, selected by the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Draft. The defenseman opted to stay at the University of Minnesota and made his NHL debut during the 2007-08 season.
Power scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games last season and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He helped Canada win the 2021 IIHF World Championship with three assists and 17 shots on goal averaging 20:07 of ice time. He played 24:17 in a 3-2 win against Finland in the championship game, including a Canada-high 10:31 in the third period.
“Yeah it’s pretty special,” Power said of the NHL Draft. “Just to know the day’s coming I’ve been dreaming about, working for all my life ever since I started playing hockey so I’m just excited for the day to come.”
NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger contributed to this report