And so the breakup of Michigan hockey’s roster begins: Sophomore defenseman Owen Power on Friday signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Buffalo Sabres, and sophomore forward Kent Johnson signed a similar deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Power, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft after putting up three goals and 13 assists for Michigan over 26 games during the 2020-21 season, demonstrated his worth in 2021-22 with three goals and 29 assists in 33 games. That included five assists during the Wolverines’ run to the Frozen Four, though he was blanked in Michigan’s overtime loss to Denver on Thursday night.
Johnson was selected four picks after Power. He tied with Power for the team lead in assists this season, with 29, and scored eight goals. He picked up an assist in Michigan’s NCAA opener against American International, but was held off the scoresheet in the Wolverines’ final two games.
Power and Johnson also played for Team Canada in this year’s Beijing Olympics; Power led the Canadians with an average ice time of 21:38 and had two assists; Johnson, who made the team as an alternate, played in every game and had a goal and four assists to lead Canada in scoring during the group stage.
Both Power and Johnson could make their NHL debuts soon, with approximately three weeks left in the regular season. The Blue Jackets are facing elimination from playoff contention next week, while the Sabres have already been eliminated. The Blue Jackets visit Detroit on Saturday, but Johnson is not expected to make his debut until Wednesday.
The Wolverines had seven first-round NHL picks on their roster this year. The others: 2019 — Johnny Beecher (No. 30 overall, Boston Bruins); 2020 — Brendan Brisson (No. 29, Vegas Golden Knights); 2021 — Matty Beniers (No. 2, Seattle Kraken); Luke Hughes (No. 4, New Jersey Devils); Mackie Samoskevich (No. 24, Florida Panthers).
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