BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In a lineup full of rookies, Owen Power stood out as the best in class. At age 20, the Sabres defenseman drafted No. 1 overall two years ago put together one of the best debut seasons in team history — putting him in contention for the Calder Memorial Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.
Power joins Seattle Kraken center Matty Beniers, his former Michigan teammates drafted second overall in 2021, and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner as Calder finalists. Voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the winner will be announced June 26 at the NHL Awards in Nashville.
Sabres rookies have won the Calder three times before: franchise scoring leader Gilbert Perreault in 1971, goaltender Tom Barrasso in 1984, and defenseman Tyler Myers in 2010.
Power’s case for the Calder comes down to a historical usage rate for a defenseman his age. He led NHL rookies in averaging 23:48 of ice time, 20:44 at even strength, which ranked among the top five among all NHL defenseman and is the most by a rookie since the league started tracking the statistic 25 years ago.
“What he does on a nightly basis is just amazing when you factor in his age and lack of experience in our league, to dominate situations, and really full games, the way he does,” Sabres coach Don Granato said in January after Power broke an early scoring drought with goals in three consecutive games.
Power produced 35 points (four goals, 31 assists) playing mostly on Buffalo’s second D-pair and power play unit. He was fifth on the team with a plus-10 rating.
All-Star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the Sabres’ No. 1 overall pick in 2018, praised Power at season’s end for playing beyond his age as a rookie.
“He does so much out there that he doesn’t get credit for,” Dahlin said. “He’s always at the right spot at the right time. He barely makes any mistakes. He never gets tired playing that way. It just looks like he’s floating around there but he’s so smart. He’s always at the right spot. He can log even more minutes I think because the way he plays. It’s fun to watch.”
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.