There are few 19-year-olds with the poise and maturity that Owen Power possesses.
But Owen Power is not your normal teenager. Heck, he's 6-foot-6 and 214 pounds. And with hundreds of friends and family in attendance, mostly sitting around section 110, Power showcased why he's been so highly regarded for many years now.
And, really, when you come away with two points while shutting down one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL, you can call that a success. He took his solo lap to one of the loudest roars you'll here from an opposing team's crowd, rookie or not. Power grew up less than 20 minutes away in Mississauga and played his minor hockey with the Mississauga Reps, making his presence known at an early age. So when Power's NCAA season came to a premature end last week, there was no better place for him to make his NHL debut.
The arena he grew up visiting against the team he grew up watching.
"I had no doubt he has rehearsed, in his mind, being in (Scotiabank Arena) many times. And he looked like it," Granato said. "He looked really natural from the drop of the puck. He's a very balanced person."
Power played on Buffalo's second pairing alongside Henri Jokiharju and had a respectable debut in a 5-2 win for Buffalo. The 6-foot-6 defender made a couple of good plays, including breaking up a pass between Auston Matthews and Mark Giordano early in the game.
"He has such a calm to him, such a presence to him," coach Don Granato said post-game. "He has the ability to slow the game around him. I've watched that presence in him for such a long time. I knew he would get a feel for pace right away."
When Power speaks, you take notice. He's well-spoken, smart and clearly someone who isn't fazed by the limelight. It's easy to get lost in the moment when you've made the big show, especially against one of the biggest hockey markets in the world.
If Power was, you wouldn't know.
"I was pretty calm, there was going to be some nerves but not too bad," Power said post-game before visiting his supporters.
There was no question that Power was ready to play against men. Power was one of Canada's best players at the 2021 men's World Championship, leading Canada to an unexpected gold after starting off slow. Power was in more of a depth role at the start but forced coach Gerard Gallant to utilize him more in bigger moments. He then played a big role for Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing before an early exit. Both times, Power showed why he was one of the best prospects in the game, and had he really wanted to, he could have made the immediate jump to the NHL with Buffalo for his rookie season.
Power wouldn't have played in Beijing had he been in the NHL. Instead, he'd have half an NHL season to his credit, which, if you enjoy math, is a much bigger sample size against men than what Power had prior to Tuesday. But instead, Power got to be a leader for Canada at the Olympics and the short-lived World Junior Championship before embarking on a Frozen Four run with the University of Michigan that ultimately ended prematurely.
Still, regardless of how prepared you can be, it can be jarring going up against the top goal-scorer in the league on every play. But Power thrived, and with 19:50 of ice time, including 1:29 while short-handed, he was given those opportunities to learn and adapt in a big way.
"He's smooth, poised... there's no panic in his game. I feel like he's been in the league for 10 years already," forward Alex Tuch said.
Power will finish the season and, likely, earn more ice time on a nightly basis over the next seven games. A decision about his participation with Canada's World Championship team hasn't been made yet, but it's hard to imagine Hockey Canada not giving him a call. And then the real challenge begins in September when he attempts to make a presence at training camp before joining a Calder Trophy fight that features Shane Wright, Kent Johnson, Matty Beniers, Jake Sanderson and Mason McTavish, to name a few.
If all goes to plan -- and that's something Buffalo fans have heard for a few years now -- Power and the Sabres will be in prime contention once again. The team is far from perfect, highlighted by a 25th-place spot in the standings. But the team has promise, with the likes of Jack Quinn, Dylan Cozens Rasmus Dahlin and Peyton Krebs helping to make up the core. The team will get another high pick, and another valued prospect in due time.
But Power might be the best. And his story has only just begun.