Owen Power, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, said he has yet to interview with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery on June 2 and could select the University of Michigan defenseman, who was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. The Seattle Kraken, who begin play next season, pick No. 2.
“I’ve probably interviewed between 10-15 NHL teams at some point during the year, and then some after the (2021 IIHF World Championship), so it’s been a decent amount,” Power said Wednesday. “I still haven’t talked to [Buffalo].”
The 18-year-old was asked when an interview with the Sabres could take place.
“I still don’t know yet,” he said.
The first round of the 2021 draft is July 23; rounds 2-7 are July 24.
“I certainly will be watching a lot more of [Power] and others here in the coming weeks,” Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams said after the draft lottery. “Obviously, he’s had a good year in Michigan, and he’s played some big minutes over on Canada in the World Championship.
“What’s exciting about this draft, I think there’s a number of players to really watch and dig into, and I’m looking forward to those upcoming meetings with our staff and to really debate.”
Michigan center Matthew Beniers is another player who could be drafted No. 1.
The Sabres on Tuesday said Don Granato would remain coach after taking over when Ralph Krueger was fired during the season.
Power scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He helped Canada win the World Championship with three assists and 17 shots on goal averaging 20:07 of ice time. Power played 24:17, including a Canada-high 10:31 in the third period of a 3-2 win against Finland in the championship game.
Power reiterated his stance from an interview with “NHL Now” on June 11, when he said he’s strongly considering a return to Michigan next season.
“From my perspective, yes, I’m still kind of thinking the same way,” he said. “I mean, obviously, what the team that picks me thinks and what my family and my advisers think will be a part of the conversation. But I think just the opportunity to win at Michigan and kind of get a true college experience is something that will factor in.
“We’ve got so many good guys and such a close group, and just being able to play with Luke [Hughes] and all the other guys would be pretty special.”
Hughes, a defenseman, is No. 4 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters for the 2021 draft.
The last player chosen No. 1 to not play in the NHL the following season was Erik Johnson, selected first 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 (6-foot-6, 213 pounds) could sign an entry-level contract and play in the NHL next season after his college season is complete. He said he hasn’t been overwhelmed by the interviewing process.
“I haven’t been too busy where I can’t handle it,” Power said. “It’s been a good balance of just being busy, but not too busy. Teams have asked about my personality, what I like to do when I’m not playing hockey. They want to know about my family, my parents and my siblings and how my development has gone.”
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