The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2021 THE WOLVERINE 9 BY CHRIS BALAS J uly 23 proved to a historic night not only in Michigan hockey history, but also for col- lege hockey in general. Four current or future Wolverines went in the top five picks of the 2021 NHL Draft, led by No. 1 overall selection Owen Power, the first Michigan icer ever to go first overall. Forward Matty Beniers went No. 2 to the Seattle Kraken, pledge and defenseman Luke Hughes of the U.S. National De- velopment Team to the New Jer- sey Devils at No. 4 and forward Kent Johnson fifth overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Power, a defenseman, had long been projected to be the No. 1 pick, but he was still over- whelmed when he got the call from the Buffalo Sabres. "It's pretty special," Power told after being se- lected. "Just being able to have a bunch of my family behind me and celebrate with me was pretty special, and even better than the way I thought it was going to turn out. "I didn't know [Buffalo would choose me] until they called my name. I was kind of hoping. They've got a lot of young prospects and I think a promising future, so I'm ex- cited for what's to come." I n c o m i n g f re s h m a n f o r w a rd Mackie Samoskevich capped the big first round, going No. 24 overall to the Florida Panthers, while class- mate and fellow forward Dylan Duke rounded out the six draftees, coming off the board in the fourth round at No. 126 overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Power becomes the first Michigan player selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft and is just the sixth Wolverine athlete to be picked No. 1 in his respective draft, join- ing Tom Harmon (NFL, 1941), Elmer Madar (NFL, 1947), Cazzie Russell (NBA, 1966), Chris Webber (NBA, 1993) and Jake Long (NFL, 2008). Power is also just the fourth college player selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft (Joe Murphy, Michigan State in 1986; Rick DiPietro, Boston University in 2000; and Erik Johnson, Minnesota in 2006). In addition, Power and Beniers be- came the first pair of college team- mates to be selected with the first two picks in the NHL Draft. Michi- gan also became the first colle- giate program to have a player drafted by all 32 NHL franchises with Beniers going to expansion Seattle, while the selections of Power, Beniers and Johnson made Michigan the first school to have three current players taken in the first round in a sin- gle draft. "There are so many words I can use to describe it. It's sur- real," Beniers said. "It's honestly amazing. I could not be happier, and I'm honestly at a loss of words just thinking about what just happened and actually be- ing drafted in the first place, go- ing second overall and going to a new expansion team. I'm so unbelievably excited and thank- ful for everything." Both Power and Beniers said they were leaning toward com- ing back to Michigan for one more year. Players can sign en- try-level contracts and play in the NHL next season after the college campaign ends, giving them options. "I think I can step in and play," Power said. "I don't think the deci- sion will be whether or not I'm ready to play — it's what is better for my development at the end of the day. I don't think there's a bad option, and it's something we have to figure out." Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said he'd be supportive of Power while he determined his next step. "It's too early, but we're going to sit down and have those discussions," he said. "We're absolutely open to what we think is the best to work with Owen to help him become the best player he can." ❑ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Michigan Makes Hockey History On NHL Draft Night Defenseman Owen Power became the first Michigan hockey player to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick of the NHL Draft on July 23. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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