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Owen Power, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NHL draft, will return to the University of Michigan next season.
Power was picked first by the Buffalo Sabres in this year’s draft, one spot ahead of Michigan teammate Matthew Beniers. He was the first Wolverine to go first overall. In late July, Power became the 16th defenseman to be taken first overall since the inception of the amateur draft in 1963.
In returning to Michigan, Power is the first No. 1 pick since 2006 to opt for at least one extra year of collegiate hockey before turning pro. The St. Louis Blues picked defenseman Erik Johnson first overall in the 2006 draft, and Johnson spent a season at the University of Minnesota before making his debut with the Blues a year later.
Before the draft, Power was the clear No. 1 pick in many experts’ eyes, thanks in part to his performance at the 2021 IIHF World Championship. He averaged more than 24 minutes in all three elimination-round games before winning gold with Canada.
Power posted 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games during his first season at Michigan. He also recorded a plus-minus of +18 and had six penalty minutes. Power led all Michigan players in blocked shots with 40.
At the end of his first season, Power was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and was a finalist for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. College Hockey News named him Rookie of the Year.
The Wolverines are a strong favorite to win the NCAA championship with Power back in the lineup, and with Beniers possibly returning as well.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Owen Power to forgo Sabres debut for second season with Michigan