Owen Power is trading in the Michigan mecca and blue for the Buffalo Sabers’ blue and gold, and he’s far from the only Wolverine to make the leap to the NHL.
A Michigan escape is underway less than 24 hours after Loaded Wolverine was knocked out of the national title by Frozen Four.
Before Power signed his deal with Buffalo on Friday, teammates Kent Johnson and Nick Blankenburg signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Matty Benniers and Brendan Bryson couldn’t be far behind after Michigan’s overtime loss to Denver in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Sabers general manager Kevin Adams said Power is expected to join Buffalo in Florida on Saturday and is likely to make his debut in Toronto on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-6, 214-pound defenseman was more than a points-a-game player for Michigan, had a hat-trick at the World Junior Championships, before calling it off and playing nearly 22 minutes for Canada. Olympics in Beijing. Shakti will gain some valuable experience by aligning with the Sabers, who will miss out on a playoff spot for the 11th season in a row.
“When you add it all up, it was a great growth year for him,” Adams said. “No matter how talented he is, he is still a young player and we want to help him get better and better and set him up for success. Really proud of how he handled himself this season on and off the snow and just excited to have him in the Saber uniform. ,
Johnson signed a three-year entry-level contract like Power, while Blankenburg received a one-year contract. He is expected to join his new team on Monday and may immediately join the Blue Jackets lineup.
Blankenburg was a free agent, while Johnson was the fifth pick in the 2021 draft. The skilled 19-year-old forward had 17 goals and 47 assists in his final college season and had five points in four games representing Canada at the 2022 Olympics.
“Kent Johnson is a remarkable youth both on and off the ice,” Jermo Kecklen, general manager of the Blue Jackets, said. “He’s a highly skilled and creative player who can knock you out of your seat whenever he’s on the ice.”
There are similarly high hopes for Beniers and Bryson, who starred for America at the Olympics on a team of more than a dozen college players. Benniers could soon join the expansion of the Seattle Kraken after moving them to second place in the draft, while Bryson was a 2020 first-round pick by Vegas.
Goaltender Eric Portillo (Buffalo), defensemen Luke Hughes and Ethan Edwards (New Jersey) and Jacob Truscott (Vancouver), forward Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose), John Beecher (Boston), Eric Ciscolini (New York Rangers), Mackie Samoskevich (Florida) ) and Dylan Duke (Tampa Bay) are other Michigan players whose rights are already owned by NHL clubs.
Adams said he also spoke with Portillo, who was on goal for Denver’s loss. It was unclear what Portillo’s path forward could be, but the Sabres had little doubt that the Powers would join him and play in the NHL quickly.
“This stretch of games until the end of the season is very important to him because you feel the NHL game, you get a good sense of what you need to do to prepare yourself to play, the pace of the game, the physicality – all it,” Adams said. “He’ll take it in his season and the way he’s wired (he’s) the type of kid who processes things very quickly and he’ll learn quickly.”
Panthers scored in the last minute, won 4-3
SUNRISE, Fla- ( Associated Press) — Sam Bennett scored with 37.3 seconds to lift the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabers on Friday night.
Sam Reinhart and Claude Giroux each had one goal and one assist, and Patrick Hornquist also scored for the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky scored 19 goals.
Jeff Skinner, Mark Pisic and Viktor Olofsson scored for Sebre and Dustin Tokarski blocked 39 shots.
Alexander Barkov passed Bennett in front from the left circle and poked the puck into the net to return from a 3-1 deficit. The Panthers won their 30th home game of the season, expanding the franchise record, and took their franchise-record 50th win of the season.
Hornquist reduced the score to 3-2 when he tied the puck from the back of the net on Tokarski’s back and left with 10:30 in the second. Reinhart then leveled the score at 3 on his power-play goal with 5:40 left in the period.
Sabers scored three goals in his first nine shots.
Olofsson’s power-play goal put the Sabers 1-0 up at an earlier 6:27.
Giroux took a pass from Huberdeau over the goal line and his sharp-angle shot beat Tokarski at 8:25 on the power play to make it 1-all.
Sabers took a 2-1 lead 20 seconds later on Pisic’s goal. Skinner extended Sabers’ lead to 3-1 on his backhand goal, with 4:25 left in the first.
Notes: Sabers c Cody Eaking played his 700th NHL game. … Sunday’s game at Buffalo in Tampa Bay is Saber’s first visit to that rink since November 2019. Saber hasn’t won in Tampa Bay since 2018 and hasn’t won in regulation since 2015. … The Panthers have seven different wins at least four games.
Saber: In Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Panthers: Saturday in Nashville.