The Chicago Steel have become a powerhouse at the USHL level, and they proved it yet again by winning the Clark Cup in May. They continue to stockpile elite talent and have nine players eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft, two of which could go in the first round.
And that's not even including defenseman Owen Power, who's a Steel alum that's projected to go No. 1 overall.
Steel GM Ryan Hardy, who was recently named USHL GM of the Year, joined the latest episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast to discuss just how good Power can be in the NHL.
"I think he's better than people think that he is," Hardy said. "I hear a lot about how there's no generational player in this draft. Owen Power is special. You could see it at the Worlds. There's a bunch of NHL players, USA plays Canada and this one guy, 18-year-old defenseman, just looks a little bit different than everybody else, you know?
"What makes him so special is his mindset. He's a humble kid, he wants to be great, he gets knocked on that he's not overly physical or whatever the case may be but he's super, super competitive, burns real deep in him, he wants to be a great player, he loves to be coached, he loves to learn and he's a great person."
"So if the Buffalo Sabres pull the trigger there, I think he's the kind of guy that you think you know what you're getting, you think you could see it because a lot of it is obvious and then he's on your team and you're like, 'Wow, this is even more than I ever knew.' You think about a team that is in a crossroads culturally and just looking to get this thing moving in the right direction and I think if you build around a guy like Owen Power, much like it happened in Chicago 15 years ago, it's the kind of thing that can change your fortunes in a hurry."
Victor Hedman is an obvious NHL comparable for Power, given the size and the type of defenseman they both are. Seth Jones is another name Hardy threw out as a potential ceiling. And he's not afraid to put those kinds of expectations on the young kid.
"I actually don't think it's putting an unfair bullseye on his back," Hardy said. "Victor Hedman is up the Norris Trophy all the time and I think Owen Power will be up for the Norris Trophy all the time. I really don't shy away from how good I think he is. We have so many of these good players, I've never really thrown around hyperbolic statements, but he's that good. He's special. And it's going to be awesome to watch him grow and watch him as an NHL player and just continue to get better and what he can accomplish."