You could always find the hallmarks of a contemporary NHL defenceman in Owen Power‘s game, even going back to his time in the USHL as a draft-minus-one skater.
He carried the puck from zone to zone, jumped into each play as the opportunity presented itself, and manipulated opponents to create space for his teammates. Playing in environments like the Chicago Steel and the University of Michigan’s lineup, Power spent his last three seasons of pre-NHL development refining those skills, learning how to best use them to consistently drive offence.
It was clear to our scouting team as we watched Power evolve over the years that he would one day take his rightful spot among the sport’s very best at his position.
What we failed to account for was how quickly he would do it.
Only 20-years-old and with just 53 games of NHL experience under his belt, Power is already one of the Sabres’ best offensive drivers from the blue line. And he’s doing it his own way too, pushing the boundaries of what a defenceman can do in today’s game rather than imitating those who’ve come before him.
In this respect, Power’s bottom line probably belies his ability, but points aren’t the best meter for evaluating defencemen anyway. That stuff is largely out of their control. At least, they have less of a handle on their output than forwards, operating further out from the goal than they do.
More advanced statistical models, like Patrick Bacon‘ (as illustrated by my Rinkside colleague JFresh) more accurately reflect the defenceman’s contributions. Halfway through his rookie season, Power’s even strength offensive contribution hits the top of the chart, and it’s a safe bet that it won’t move too much from that point through the balance of the season.