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Sabers Power Up; Michigan Defenseman First Selectman in the NHL Draft


The NHL draft turned Michigan mecca and blue on Friday night. And a Hughes siblings reunion is about to take place in New Jersey.

The Buffalo Sabers opened the draft by selecting Wolverines defenseman Owen Powers with the top pick, and shortly thereafter the Seattle Kraken selected Michigan center Matthew Benniers at No. It marked the first time since 1969 that teammates had gone with the first two. selection.

Three picks later, the Wolverines became college hockey’s first event in which three teammates went to the first round after Michigan winger Kent Johnson was selected in fifth place by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“Extremely excited for Owen, Matty and their families. It’s already a great night for Michigan hockey. Go blue,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson texted The Associated Press when Kraken made his selection.

Not only that though. Luke Hughes, who is committed to playing at Michigan, was selected fourth overall by the Devils, where defending is united with brother Jack, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.

Hughes watched the draft with both of his NHL-playing brothers on the sofa of his family’s living room, rounded out by Quinn, who was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018. Jack Hughes immediately jumped in and began hugging Luke upon hearing Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald’s announcement. selection.

Ontario junior center Mason McTavish was the only player without Michigan to round out the top five when he was selected third overall by Anaheim.

The draft was held remotely for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic, with commissioner Gary Bateman hosting the draft in New Jersey, where he introduced teams to select from their home arenas.

One day when the Sabers traded Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager Kevin Adams continued his offseason bid to overhaul a struggling franchise by choosing a successor to the stalwart defenseman. Powers listed at 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds and was the top-ranked North American prospect of the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. After scoring three goals and adding 13 assists in 26 games during his freshman season at Michigan, the 18-year-old Powers solidified his draft stock by helping Canada win the World Hockey Championship.

From Mississauga, Ontario, Power is leaning toward returning to school for his sophomore season, something Adams has said will not be a factor in his selection.

“Not thinking about it too much right now, trying to enjoy the night. I’ll worry about it later,” Power said of her future, while her family and friends circled her backyard. Had taken.

As a message to Sabers fans, he said: “I’m so excited to be a part of the franchise and ready to go.”

Powers was the third player to be dropped straight out of college, joining Michigan State forward Joe Murphy in 1986 and Boston University goalkeeper Rick DiPietro in 2000. And he became the 16th defenseman to go No. 1 since 1970, and the first time the Sabers picked Rasmus. Dahlin at No. 1 in 2018.

Power and Dahlin have similar two-way, game-making skills, and will have the opportunity to form the backbone of a re-established defensive unit for years to come.

Beniers was ranked sixth overall among North American prospects. He had 14 goals and 24 points in 24 games for the Wolverines.

In 1969, Regine Houle and Marc Tardiff were Montreal Junior Canadiens teammates, having been selected by Montreal with the first two picks. In 1963, Gary Monahan and St. Michael’s Juvenile teammate Peter Mahowlich were selected for first and second place.

Sabers made a splash first, adding defender Robert Haig in the first second-round pick, 14th overall, and Ristolainen in the Philadelphia tackle.

Buffalo is part of Adams’ bid to rebuild through youth trades after finishing last in the overall standings for the fourth time in eight seasons and extending its playoff drought to an NHL record-matching 10th year.

The Philadelphia-acquired pick is actually 13th in the draft order after the NHL stripped the 11th-ranked Arizona Coyotes of their first-round pick for testing players in violation of the league’s coalition policy.

The Coyotes, however, went back into the first round by receiving the Canucks’ pick, ninth overall, in a five-player trade that sent Arizona captain Oliver Ackman-Larson to Vancouver earlier in the day.

The first European players selected in the back to back selection were from Sweden. Defenseman Simon Edwinson finished sixth for the Detroit Red Wings, followed by under-sized forward William Eklund, who was picked up in seventh place by the San Jose Sharks.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-SPORTS

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