We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.
Team: University of Michigan (Big Ten)
Date of Birth: November 22, 2002
Birthplace: Mississauga, Ontario
Height: 6’ 6”
Ranked #1 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #4 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #6 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #1 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #1 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #1 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #1 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #4 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #9 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #1 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #3 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #1 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
Ranked #1 by TSN/McKenzie
Games Played: 26
Unlike recent years, where players like Jack Hughes and Alexis Lafreniere stood out from their class, the 2021 class does not have a clear #1. That being said, if any player is the presumptive favorite to be first off the board, it’s Owen Power.
It’s not hard to see what sets Power apart: 6’6” defensemen don’t grow on trees, and especially not ones who can skate well and move the puck effectively. In addition to playing key minutes as a freshman for Michigan, he got to play with adults in the World Championships, helping Canada win a gold medal.
There’s been a good history of Wolverine defensemen in Columbus, from Jack Johnson to Zach Werenski. In the unlikely event that Power falls to #5, the Jackets should not hesitate to take him. He may end up being Werenski’s replacement if Z gets traded.
He’s mobile across the blue line through his footwork and his ability to open up his stride onto his inside edges. He’s got superb cross-ice vision, which allows him to break down the offensive zone east-west as a seam passer. He’s got uncanny skill for a player with his length and does a wonderful job adjusting around the first layer (though he could learn to attack past multiple waves of pressure a little more consistently because when he does he can get to the slot or the crease) or controlling the puck on exits and entries. And maybe most of all, he really understands how to operate on the ice, consistently reading play effectively, processing at high speeds when pace ratchets up, and picking his spots to attack or simplify. I wouldn’t bet against him becoming an all-situations, big-minutes first-pairing defenceman and his floor probably positions him as a top-four blueliner. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Communicates well on the ice and moves well for his size; Gap closures are good but angles can improve and pivot timing may be an issue against quicker competition; Needs to fill shooting lanes quicker; Lateral agility isn’t amazing; Can use his size to be more suffocating in one-on-one battles and must be more cognizant of how skill players can expose his frame - Eric D, On the Forecheck
Power’s offensive toolkit won’t jump out immediately to you, but a 6-foot-6 defenseman who can skate at the NHL level and move the puck well is a major asset. His skating isn’t explosive, but his stride and edgework are excellent, and he can evade pressure very well. Power’s offense comes from a great first pass and an ability to find seams in the offensive zone well. I question if he will be a go-to power play type, but I can for sure see him on PP2 and can be PP1 in a pinch. Defensively he’s not that physical, but he closes on checks well with his range and reach, and breaks up a lot of plays. In a sentence, Power projects as a star all-situations NHL defenseman who won’t land on highlight reels but will play tough minutes and drive play. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic