SABRES TAKE STEPS FORWARD WITH ADDITIONS OF POWER, ROSENJul 24, 2021
By Jourdon LaBarber for Sabres.com
The Sabres made a series of moves to that end on Friday. The team selected defenseman Owen Power with the No. 1 overall pick. They added the 14th overall pick as part of a package from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, which they used to select forward Isak Rosen (the package also included a second-round pick in 2022).
"Like I said yesterday, this is an exciting weekend because I feel we have an amazing opportunity as an organization to take a step forward and add quality players to our organization," Adams said afterward.
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Power was the consensus top prospect among media analysts and the top-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting Services. He is a left-shot, 6-foot-6 defenseman who impressed with his poise and mobility both as a freshman at the University of Michigan and while playing heavy minutes against NHL players during Canada's gold-medal run at the World Championship in May.
Power donned a Sabres sweater once the pick was announced, surrounded by upwards of 60 cheering friends and family members at his draft party in Burlington, Ontario. The imagery offered a glimpse of the future, which could see Power form a talented one-two punch on the left side of the defense with fellow No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.
Just how far into the future remains to be seen. Power has spoken openly about his desire to return for a chance at an NCAA title at Michigan, though his final decision will be made with input from the Sabres. He also said he believes he could step into the NHL this season.
Adams described the merits of both options.
"I know we're talking about the Number 1 overall pick, and a player that's clearly capable of stepping right into the NHL," he said. "But I think you have to look at the long game even with a player at this level and say, `What is the best for him? How does he continue to get better?'
"For me, it's great to have someone step right in and they're playing but really want to make sure these guys are going to at their peak however many years that takes. Whenever that is."
Rosen, a right winger who played 22 games in the SHL last season, is touted for his skating and goal-scoring ability. He scored seven goals in seven games at the U-18 World Championship, earning recognition as a top-three player for Sweden.
The price to draft Rosen included a longtime member of the Sabres in Ristolainen, who had spent his entire eight-year career in Buffalo after being drafted by the organization in 2013. Adams did not comment on media reports regarding interest from other teams in fellow veterans Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart but stayed firm in his willingness to explore any move that fits the organization's long-term vision.
"I've said from Day 1 that we have to look at every possible scenario and be willing to see, 'Does this makes sense for us and why?' And ask those hard questions," Adams said. "So, we continue to do that.
"We're having a lot of conversations but if we're in a position where we feel that there's value and we feel it's going to help our franchise, then we'll make certain decisions."
The draft continues at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the Sabres holding the first pick in the second round.