The college kids are here
By: Colby R
This year, the University of Michigan held four of the top five NHL draft picks from the 2021 NHL Draft. These included 1st Overall pick, Owen Power, 2nd Overall Pick, Matty Beniers, 4th Overall Pick Luke Hughes, and 5th Overall Pick Kent Johnson. After Michigan’s loss in the semifinals of the National Championship, Power, Beniers, and Johnson were set to join their respective teams. Luke Hughes however is still deciding on if the next step in his career is another year of college or the NHL. Now that debuts have been made and points have been had, let’s reflect on how the Michigan boys look a couple games into what will be extremely long careers for all of them.
Sabres top prospect and last year’s 1st Overall Pick, Owen Power, made his debut in a Sabres 5-2 win in Toronto. Power ended the game logging roughly 20 minutes of ice time and recording a +2 rating. Next game, Power recorded his first NHL point, a primary assist to Alex Tuch in his home debut. Now a couple games into his NHL career, Power looks confident with the puck both on and off his stick. The 19-year-old frequently fins himself joining the rush. The puck just finds this kid whether it be for the countless shots on goal from dangerous areas or a clean break out. Overall, Power is going to deal with growing pains on the defensive side, as many rookie defenseman face, but with mentorship from Rasmus Dahlin and other young players, Power is going to add another offensive threat from the back up for the Buffalo Sabres. The future is bright in Buffalo.
What isn’t there to like about this kid. The first draft pick in the history of the Seattle Kraken had produced immediately. Beniers has three points in his first three NHL games including two goals and an assist. Not to mention, the confidence is already showing in Beniers. Whether it’s yelling for the puck on his stick, or dangling throughout the offensive zone, Beniers is proving to be a lot for defenseman to handle. As a defenseman myself, you can see Matty also has an unpredictability factor to his game as he is not afraid to try out new things. In his second game, Beniers was already trying to flick the puck over Pavel Zacha, a seven-year NHL player, to charge to the net. The Kraken aim to build through the draft with the plethora of picks they have and Beniers needs to be a catalyst for the youngsters. Safe to say it is going as good as possible.
There’s not much to be said so far about Kent Johnson’s game. Like most rookies, Johnson is experiencing the ups and downs any hockey player finds when joining a new system. Johnson is an extremely talented player with a lot of offensive flare and while this has not fully translated yet, it’s only been three games. The end of this year for Columbus will be huge in helping Johnson gain the confidence he needs to bring his flare to the highest level. It’s only a matter of time before Johnson begins creating and capitalizing on his chances.