This year in the NCAA we are seeing elite blueline production rivalling that of major NHL stars, a renaissance of the Big Ten with good performances from Notre Dame and Ohio State to rival the known strong teams and the making of a lot of good gems to keep your eye on. Here are a few notes from players across the league.
Owen Power – D – Michigan (Buffalo Sabres, 2021, round one, first overall)
The Wolverines are off to a 13-5 start due largely to the calmness Power displays as he dominates with elite awareness on both ends of the puck. He’s thinking the game ahead of his peers at a level that really makes you wonder where he could have been on a slightly overachieving Buffalo Sabres team. Don’t get me wrong this year is best for his development and well, our enjoyment as hockey fans getting to see how a team with seven first-round picks would make out in the NCAA this season. What is most impressive about Power is his skating, especially for a 6-6 player. His footwork and lateral skating as he gains zones with ease are impressive skills to have. Power is currently on an eight-game points streak is plus 13, boasts 23 points in 18 games and leads the team with 21 blocked shots. That screams multicat beast. Not only that but his D+1 is trending on a Superstar pace, especially when you consider Cale Makar was pacing 18 points in as many games in his Hobey Baker winning season.
Nathan Smith – C – Minnesota State (Winnipeg Jets, 2018, round three, 91st overall)
Smith is a really cool story, he’s a Tampa product who hones his skills playing roller hockey in Tampa, Florida and worked his way through the Tampa High School hockey, the USHL and finally top five in scoring in the NCAA as we speak. If I was born in Tampa, Florida I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get to Winnipeg, Manitoba but Smith is surely playing like he’s in a rush. 1.4 points per game as a Senior with 26 points in 18 games and he’s a hot week away from raising his NCAA career total to a point per game with 78 points in his 81 NCAA career games. Smith is a creative pivot with skill and clearly some offensive upside.
Jake Sanderson – D – North Dakota (Ottawa Senators, 2020, round one, fifth overall)
I’ll admit when the chatter around Sanderson or Jamie Drysdale going off the board first was a thing, I thought that it was a mistake to prefer Sanderson to Drysdale and I’m not nearly as confident in that logic now. Drysdale doesn’t have the benefit of tearing up the OHL as he could be right now, so it’s a bit of an unfair comparison as he has been thrown to the Wolves on a thin Anaheim Ducks team and it says something to have stepped into the NHL so young. The thing is, Sanderson is a lot more of a dynamic force on the