If he picks up where he left off, Power will be in contention for the league’s top rookie.
Earlier this week, 21-year-old Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s “most proficient [player] in his first year of competition.”
While we already knew that Owen Power wasn’t in the conversation as a finalist, some were mildly surprised that he wasn’t on a single ballot when the PHWA revealed its full voting after the awards ceremony. In the end, 15 players received votes:
- Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings
- Alexandre Carrier, Nashville Predators
- Anton Lundell, Florida Panthers
- Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens
- Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils
- Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
- Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings
- Martin Fehervary, Washington Capitals
- Matt Boldy, Minnesota Wild
- Michael Bunting, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
- Seth Jarvis, Carolina Hurricanes
- Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators
- Timothy Liljegren, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks
Power certainly did leave an impression in his (incredibly short) stint in Buffalo with the Sabres at the end of the season, but it was just that: an incredibly short stint.
He played in only eight games, and while his impact on the team was clearly evident to those who watched the Sabres, I think we can forgive media members from other markets who didn’t take it into much consideration when making their picks.
For all intents & purposes, the 2021-22 NHL season is behind us, at least on this topic. Now, we look ahead; and if Power picks up where he left off in the fall, there’s absolutely no reason why he wouldn’t be in serious contention for the Calder in 2023.
As a reminder, Power retains his eligibility in 2023 for the Calder Memorial Trophy since he only played in eight games this season. Per NHL.com:
To be eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, a player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.
From the individual to the team, many of the right pieces are already in place to set Power up for a Calder-worthy season. His short stint this season gave him a small taste of NHL experience & helped shake off any nerves he may have felt. His defensive potential, strength, intelligence and awareness on the ice, combined with his offensive touch, make him stand out on the ice. (Okay, maybe his 6’6” frame does that, too.)
And in Buffalo, he’s expected to be surrounded by a lot of key players who can help fuel his growth, too. Playing alongside fellow blueliners like Rasmus Dahlin and Mark Pysyk, and sharing a locker room with guys like Dylan Cozens, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner, there’s a lot to like about the surroundings Power finds himself in, on and off the ice. (Skinner is, of course, himself a former Calder winner, in 2011.)
It’s an environment that could easily foster a Calder winner, and there’s no doubt in my mind that 11-ish months from now, Power will be a fierce contender for the award alongside guys like Shane Wright and Logan Cooley. It’s understandable how he isn’t exactly a prominent piece of the conversation right now. How he starts off things in October and progresses over the course of his first full NHL season will determine how much of the conversation he holds come April – and it should certainly be fun to watch.