And so began the unraveling of Michigan’s hockey roster: Spectrum defender Owen Power on Friday signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabers, and sophomore Kent Johnson signed a similar deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Power, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft after scoring three goals and 13 assists for Michigan in 26 games during the 2020-21 season, showed his 2021-22 value with three goals and 29 assists in 33 games. That included five assists during the Wolverines’ race to the Frozen Four, although it was voided in UM’s overtime loss to Denver on Thursday night.
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Johnson was named four picks after Power. He tied with Power to lead the team in assists this season, with 29, and scored eight goals. He earned a pass in the NCAA opener at UM against American International, but was kept off the scoring sheet in the last two Wolverines Finals.
Bauer and Johnson also played for Team Canada at this year’s Beijing Olympics. The force led the Canadians with an average ice time of 21:38 and had two passes. Johnson, who made the team as a substitute, played in every game and had one goal and four assists to lead Canada in scoring during the group stage.
Both Bauer and Johnson could debut in the National Hockey League soon, with nearly three weeks left in the regular season. The Blue Jackets face elimination from their playoff match next week, while the Sabers have already been eliminated. The Blue Jackets visit Detroit on Saturday, but Johnson is not expected to make his debut until Wednesday.
Johnson wouldn’t be the only former Wolverine in the Blue Jackets organization; Defense Team Captain Nick Blankenberg, captain of the season, has signed a one-year contract with Columbus. Blankenburg, who went without a draft and hails from the Washington Top. At Macomb County, he finished his UM career with 25 goals and 44 assists in 133 games for Michigan. He ranked fourth on the list in terms of goals (14) this season and added 15 assists, including one in Frozen’s win over Quinnipiac.
The Wolverines had seven first-round NHL picks on their roster this year. Others: 2019 – Johnny Beecher (30th overall, Boston Bruins); 2020 – Brendan Bryson (No. 29, Vegas Golden Knights); 2021 – Mate Benners (No. 2, Seattle Kraken); Luke Hughes (No. 4, New Jersey Devils); Maki Samoskevich (No. 24, Florida Panthers).
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The Wolverines received slightly better, if expected, news on Friday as three All-American players were selected. Benners, who scored 20 goals and 23 assists to lead Wolverine’s team in points, was in the first team, while Power and Hughes were named to the second team.
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