The 2022-23 NHL rookie card class just got a little bit stronger.
Owen Power, the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2021, made his NHL debut for the Buffalo Sabres April 12, making him eligible for the 2022-23 Upper Deck NHL/NHLPA-licensed hockey card sets.
Upper Deck jumped on his NHL debut earlier this month, producing a Game Dated Moment card of Power for his April 12 debut against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Although Power was a first overall pick, his hobby impact is a question mark. Very few defensemen become hobby icons. Obviously, Bobby Orr remains one of the most collectible stars in hockey history, as he, Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky make up the hobby’s vintage hockey Holy Trinity. Through the years, we have also seen huge hobby interest in Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Nicklas Lidstrom, Erik Karlsson and Chris Chelios.
But when it comes right down to it, the goalies and the big scorers are the players who usually get the love from collectors. Alex Ovechkin leads the way among current players, while Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews are the players people are chasing.
Power is not the first blueliner to be the number one overall pick headed to Buffalo. Just a few years ago, Swedish Rasmus Dahlin was a Sabres’ first overall pick. Dahlin was projected to be a franchise player, but those predictions have not yet materialized. He does, however, have more than 50 points heading into the final week of the season. He has been far from a disappointment.
Power, however, is a different player than Dahlin. He has great size – he is listed at 6’6”, 213 pounds – and he is an exceptionally good skater. This isn’t a “he’s a good skater for his size” thing, he’s just a good skater with great agility and quick acceleration, period. He is great in his own zone, and he is great in the offensive zone. He will put up points. The comparison is Victor Hedman of the Lightning, though he may not be as physical as Hedman. That comparison is also on style of play, not skill level. Power has a long way to go to be the next Hedman.
Power, who grew up playing hockey in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, went the NCAA route instead of junior hockey. He played for the Michigan Wolverines for the last two seasons. He only scored three goals in each of his two seasons there, but this season he had 29 assists, giving him 32 points in 33 games to lead all NCAA defensemen in points per game. Before going to Michigan, he played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL and was the league’s Defenseman of the Year and led all blueliners with 40 points in 45 games.
Power also played for Canada at the 2022 World Junior Championships. In the first game of the tournament, which was played Dec. 26, 2021, Power became the first Canadian defenseman to ever record a hat trick in the history of the tournament.
Aside from the Game Dated Moments card, there are some actual Owen Power cards out there. He is included in the unlicensed BY IIHF World Championship sets for 2021 (cards 7 and 34) and 2022 (card 56), and he is also in the 2021 IIHF World Championship set (card #22). His 2021-22 Upper Deck Game Dated Moments card is number 80 in that set and are numbered to 999. Some of those–and parallels have made their way to eBay. He’s also the #1 Draft Pick Redemption from 2021-22 Upper Deck MVP.
Power’s late season debut will only increase interest in next year’s rookie card class. Another factor is that Buffalo is one of the strongest hockey card markets in the United States, and they have been anxious for a contending team since the Dominik Hasek ended.
If Power can become a Norris Trophy candidate and turn Buffalo into a contender, there is no doubt that regional interest in his cards will drive national demand.