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Owen Power Ready to Add Olympic Experience to Jam-Packed CV

Owen Power is set to make his Olympic debut before ever dressing for an NHL game. It's yet another remarkable moment in the young 19-year-old's career.
Owen Power

Remember when many people questioned Owen Power's decision to go back to school for another year?

It's paying off in a big way for the Buffalo Sabres prospect.

Selected first overall by the Sabres at the 2021 draft, the University of Michigan defender is set to make his Olympic debut with Canada next week as the youngest blueliner on the team. It was an opportunity that came last minute with the NHL pulling out of the Winter Games in Beijing, allowing Canada to look towards its youth to help build the roster.  

And don't for a second think Power is going just for the experience. He's going to be very vital in Canada's attempts to win gold.

That's exactly what he was to Canada's World Junior team in December, recording five points in two games. But with the tournament put on hold, Canadian fans didn't get to see Power reach his full potential. But it was during that tournament that Hockey Canada floated the idea of the Olympics to Power, and it was an opportunity he couldn't refuse.

"I think every athlete wants to play in the Olympics one day, so just to be able to have the opportunity to do it this young, it's a huge honor for me," Power said.

It's an opportunity that was also awarded to Cale Makar in 2018, but the Colorado Avalanche star declined to focus on school and the NCAA playoffs. Makar had just finished as the top defenseman at the World Junior Championship a month prior, but heavy ice time wasn't guaranteed in his case.

This time, that shouldn't be a problem for Power. Unlike Makar, Power already has experience playing against men, earning top on Canada's top pairing on the World Championship team that won gold last spring. He started the tournament in a minor role before playing too good for Gerard Gallant to ignore and by the time the gold medal game came around, Power was one of Canada's best players, regardless of position.

And that was with a team full of NHLers. He doesn't have that obstacle in Beijing, so it shouldn't be long until coach Jeremy Colliton gives him a similar opportunity at the Olympics. While his experience is still rather limited against pro players, many believe he could have easily transitioned into a top role with Buffalo immediately this season. Power's NHL debut will have to wait a bit longer, and many agree his decision to spend an extra year with a strong University of Michigan team was the right way to go, but the skill is definitely there.

The World Junior Championship is expected to resume in August, so there's a real possibility that Power could win gold at the Olympics before winning it at the WJC - and that same WJC would have already begun. That's the unique position that the NHL's lack of Olympic participation and the COVID-19 pandemic has put Power in. If Power wins both of those events, he'd be a triple gold club member before making his NHL debut - and at just 19 years old.

Of course, he needs to actually win both of those events first, and that's much easier said than done. There's still a lot of uncertainty over the World Junior Championship and Russia, Czechia, Finland and USA will all have something to say about Canada's Olympic hopes.

“Owen Power’s hockey ability and being first overall speaks for itself,” Canada's World Junior Championship coach Dave Cameron said. “The interesting thing about it for me is the route he took. That says something about a young man that he has things in perspective, things in balance. He’s a confident man because he knows he’s going to be a long-time NHL player, and he realized that there’s no rush to get into that."

Power and his camp have been patient with his development, and it could pay off in a big way personally. Making Canada's Olympic team is a challenge in itself, and there's no guarantee he'd ever make the team again. Power has already participated in a lifetime of major international events before even being able to legally have an alcoholic beverage in the country he plays in.

And to think it's just another achievement on his already crowded resume. There has never been a better stage for Power to show what he's capable of, and his maturity is beyond his age. He's going to show just how good of a prospect he really is.

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