He had come from the USHL, which doesn’t receive a great deal of media attention, and was playing his freshman season at the University of Michigan, which was shortened due to the COVID pandemic and very few fans were allowed to attend the games that were played. Despite qualifying, his team was denied a spot in the NCAA tournament due to a positive COVID test and he didn’t play for Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championship or the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
He finally got the stage he deserved, however, at the senior-level IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in May, and made the most of it.
“I think the World Championship was good for me to see where I was at playing with and against pros, so it gave me a better idea of how ready I am to play pro hockey,” said Power.
He seems pretty ready. Despite being the youngest player on the Canadian team at 18, Power earned the trust of head coach Gerard Gallant and was given top-four ice time on defence, averaging over 20 minutes per game. Power recorded three assists in 10 games and was a plus-1 on a team that rallied from losing its first three games to win the gold medal. He even garnered several votes to the media all-star team.
Power has been a defenceman for as long as he can remember.
“I honestly don’t know how it started,” the Mississauga, Ontario native pondered. “I think the coach just put me there and I kinda stuck with it.”
But he now studies the finer points of the position and has a good idea what he can do to contribute and excel at the NHL level.
“I’m a two-way defenceman that can play in a lot of different situations and a lot of minutes so I think any team in the NHL would want someone like that. I think that’s what I’ll bring,” Power said about his own game. “If you look at the top guys, they’re good on both sides of the puck. They keep pucks out of their net and they create offence.”
While watching the recently-completed Stanley Cup Finals, there’s one player in particular that Power studied and likes to compare himself to – the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, who like Power is an IIHF World Champion.
“We’ve got similar attributes with our size and skating, and how good he is at closing gaps and killing plays is something that I really watch and try to put in my game,” said the 6’5”, 214-lb Power. “And obviously he’s really good offensively and on the power play.”
But despite that and where he sits in pre-Draft rankings, he might not be making the jump to The Show just yet. As mentioned, the most recent hockey season was a strange one, and he would like to play a more normal season at the University of Michigan.
“That’s maybe one of the reasons I want to go back to school – to have the true college experience,” he said. “Especially playing in front of the fans there would be special, and actually going to class instead of doing it online and do stuff other than go to the rink and home is something that I would like to do.”
He added: “I wouldn’t say I’m committed to going back to school but I’m probably leaning towards it right now. That’s obviously something I’d have to talk about with whatever team drafts me so I’ll probably look into that more once I get drafted.
“My goal is to play one more year and then be ready to play in the NHL.”
And there’s also the international situation. Last season, Power’s college team didn’t release him to take part in a prolonged training camp for the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. This season, the world’s biggest junior tournament will be back in Alberta and this time, hopefully, with fans.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the World Juniors, so that’s just another reason that goes into going back to school,” said Power. “That definitely plays a part.”
If he does go back to Ann Arbor, he’ll be joining a very good team. In addition to Power, other projected first-round picks on the team include Americans Matthew Beniers, who also played in this year’s Worlds, and Luke Hughes and Canadian Kent Johnson. Last year’s squad also included first-rounders Cameron York, Johnny Beecher and Brendan Brisson, second-rounder Thomas Bordeleau and goaltender Erik Portillo taken in the third round, with all but York eligible to return. Power experienced last year’s Draft, which was an online event, with Brisson, who was picked 28th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights.
“I was there at the Draft last year and saw him go through it,” said Power. “He was one of my roommates so he gave me a lot of tips on leading up to the Draft – just different interviews and stuff teams are going to ask. So I think he was a huge help in that. And just seeing how the Draft works from that perspective is something that’s probably going to benefit me for the upcoming Draft.”