Welcome to my ramblings, where I’ll be writing down my thoughts on NHL and draft-eligible prospects once a week. I’ll be using the ramblings to keep you posted on the week’s events, and let you in on some questions I ask myself often regarding prospects, amateur scouting and player development.
This week, I wanted to take a look at the Michigan Wolverines, an NCAA program that has catapulted itself into powerhouse conversations seemingly out of nowhere. The program landed four of the top-five picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, a historic achievement that has generated momentum for the team’s recruitment efforts this year. More and more prospects are committing to the Wolverines that are shaping up to be top draft picks in the future, including one of the most promising 2023-eligible junior players in Adam Fantilli.
I wanted to take a quick look at the Wolverines’ current stars and future pieces, while also analyzing what’s to come for the NCAA program; the very nature of college hockey makes retaining top-end talent long-term near impossible. I want to look at how long Michigan can keep this powerhouse title, and if they’ll ever relinquish it after this recent batch of successful additions.
We’ll first count down the 2021 draftees in order, starting with the first-overall pick:
Owen Power, LD — Buffalo Sabres
Power’s 2021-2022 campaign is off to a great start, as the prospect’s production has stepped up since last year. The towering blueliner has been using his size (6-foot-6, 214 pounds) and reach a bit more to his advantage, leading him to jump his production rate from 0.62 last year to 1.20 this year, as Power has two goals and 10 assists through 10 games to start the year. This includes six points in his last four games, all of which came against decent programs in Michigan State and Wisconsin. He leads the team’s defensemen in points, and is tied for second with forwards included. He also remains as disciplined as he was last season, with only three minor penalties drawn so far despite being one of the most regularly-involved defensemen away from the puck.
Power can sometimes be a bit too restrained and inactive around his net, and his passing consistency could be better, but he is still managing to show the improvement and adaptability expected from a first-overall selection. If he continues to apply these concepts to the more intricate details of his game, he could very well reach his top-pair ceiling.
Matty Beniers, C — Seattle Kraken
Beniers has more or less maintained his point-per-game pace from his draft year with nine points in 10 games this season, but the assistant captain has seen an uptick in his goal-scoring with a jump from 0.42 goals per game to 0.6. He scored four goals in the Wolverines’ back-to-back against Michigan State over the weekend, all four of which came in the first period. His defensive involvement has been just as good, as the prospect regularly manages to use his tenacity