Owen Power, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL draft, reportedly won't play for the Buffalo Sabres this season.
Per Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News, Power will return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore year.
A 6'5" defenseman, Power rose to the top of draft boards during his freshman campaign with the Wolverines. He scored 16 points in 26 games and was named to the All-Big Ten second team.
Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters after selecting Power with the top pick that the team believes his all-around game will translate to the NHL:
“The way he handles himself on the ice and in all parts of his game, with the puck, his poise, the defensive reads he makes with a great stick, his hockey IQ -- I love that. I love his length and love his skating. Just an all-around good player that we really think is going to continue to get better and better. And he’s a really high character kid who is excited about being in Buffalo.”
While it is unusual for a No. 1 pick to delay his NHL career, it's not unheard of.
Erik Johnson, the first pick in the 2006 draft by the St. Louis Blues, played one season at the University of Minnesota in 2006-07 before going to the NHL.
The move didn't appear to hurt Johnson's development, as the Minnesota native posted 33 points as a rookie with the Blues during the 2007-08 season.
Michigan has legitimate national title aspirations in 2021-22 with Power returning. Matty Beniers and Kent Johnson, who were both selected in the top five of the 2021 NHL draft, are also considering returning to college next season.
The Sabres are still in the early stages of a rebuild after finishing with just 37 points last season. They can afford to wait for Power to join them as they continue to build a young roster capable of competing for a future playoff spot.