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Adams sees development opportunities for Levi, Power at Olympics

Adams sees development opportunities for Levi, Power at Olympics

Kevyn Adams selected defenseman Owen Power with the first overall pick on Day 1 of the NHL Draft this past July. He worked into the early hours of the following morning to complete the trade to acquire goaltender Devon Levi from the Florida Panthers. 

In the ensuing six months, all Levi and Power have done is establish themselves as two of the top players in college hockey. Adams congratulated both players on Tuesday after they were formally announced as having been selected to Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

NHL players are not participating in the Olympics due to schedule strains caused by COVID-19. The Canada roster is comprised of NHL alumni (including former Sabres forward Eric Staal) and a group of prospects that also includes 2021 third-overall pick Mason McTavish. 

Tweet from @HockeyCanada: Meet Team Canada! 🇨🇦25 men have been selected to represent 🇨🇦 at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.ROSTER ������ https://t.co/[email protected] | #Beijing2022 pic.twitter.com/pcIv42Qkf6

“We’re proud of them and excited for the opportunity they have,” Adams said. “From my standpoint in the beginning, it was just to communicate with them or their team staffs or advisors, whoever else was kind of involved, just to say that we were supportive. 

“Whatever they felt they were comfortable with, we wanted to support. I look at this as an opportunity on a development path of just another experience, another stage, another learning-type experience. I look at it as a tremendous honor and a lot of positives.”
 
Power, 19, has represented Canada twice in the past nine months. He shouldered top minutes playing alongside men at the World Championship in May and won gold. He became the first Canadian defenseman to record a hat trick in World Juniors history in December, tallying five points in two games before the tournament was cut short due to COVID-19.

Power has 26 points (3+23) in 24 games for the University of Michigan. 

“Owen’s extremely self-aware of his game, what he does well, what he wants to work on,” Adams said. “Whenever I go watch him play and I talk to him after a game, he immediately gives a breakdown of his games: ‘I liked what I did here, I think I need to do better there.’ 

“It’s impressive at a young age to see that. And I think part of his mindset of going back for this year was to grow and he’s attacked the season. This player to me sums up the type of people we want on the Buffalo Sabres and in our locker room, people that get up every day and want to be better.”

Video: KEVYN ADAMS

Power’s Olympic participation should not preclude him from continuing to chase a national title at Michigan. The men’s gold medal game is scheduled for Feb. 20. The Big Ten Tournament begins the weekend of March 4 and the NCAA Tournament runs from March 25 to April 9.

Because the NHL schedule runs through April, the door could be open for Power to sign and make his Sabres debut at the end of this season even if Michigan advances to the Frozen Four.

“I don’t want to get ahead of it because I think it’s important for him to stay present and stay in the moment of what he’s doing and what he’s focused on,” Adams said. “And I don’t want in any way to be a distraction from that.

“But, you know, he ultimately knows where he wants to be. We ultimately know where we want him to be, and we’ve had those conversations just to prepare. So, we’ll just we’ll let this play out.”

Levi, a seventh-round pick by Florida in 2020, had not appeared in an NCAA game when the Sabres acquired him. He had dominated the World Junior Championship with Canada, however, posting a .964 save percentage in seven games and earning recognition as the tournament’s top goaltender.

Levi missed his freshman season at Northeastern University due to the fractured rib he played through in that tournament, but his results as a sophomore have been every bit as staggering. He leads the nation in shutouts (9) and save percentage (.948) in 24 contests.

Adams credited Sabres development coach Seamus Kotyk with scouting Levi prior to the trade. 

“We felt that it got, obviously, intense at times in the negotiations with that deal,” Adams said. “But we did not want to compromise, because we really did believe this player could be something special. What he’s done this year in college is pretty remarkable.”

Tweet from @GoNUmhockey: Congratulations are in order for our very own Devon Levi who will represent Team Canada (@HockeyCanada) in the 2022 Beijing Olympics!📝 https://t.co/CcR3yBKVkg#HowlinHuskies | #HockeyEast pic.twitter.com/N9nVJ7dOPW

Levi is one of three goaltenders on the roster, along with veterans Eddie Pasquale and Matt Tomkins. Pasquale (KHL) and Tomkins (SHL) both play professionally overseas.

Adams referenced his phone call with Levi after the trade as evidence that the 20-year-old is ready for the Olympic stage. Adams recalls Levi reacting with forward-thinking calmness in a situation that might have caused others his age to panic. 

“So, I think he has a really — and it shows in his play — a really good ability to lock in on the moment and just stay focused on what he’s doing,” Adams said. “… Where he’s really been impressive from our player development staff is just his attention to detail, his preparation, and he believes in himself. 

“He’s not a big guy in stature, so he’s had to work for everything that he’s earned. And I think that gives players a confidence too when you’ve done the work and you’re earning everything. There’s a sense of like, ‘I belong and I deserve this opportunity because of the work I’ve done.'”


https://www.nhl.com/sabres/news/buffalo-sabres-kevyn-adams-press-conference-devon-levi-owen-power-team-canada-olympics/c-330178722