Sebastain Cossa DET prospect feature

Sebastian Cossa had a difficult transition from junior hockey to the professional ranks last season, but the Detroit Red Wings goalie prospect feels better for going through it.

The 20-year-old began the season with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, but after allowing seven goals in two games, was sent to Toledo of the ECHL.

"I wanted to play at the highest level I could last year," Cossa said. "I was happy that I made the transition to pro. The 'Coast' [ECHL] isn't an easy league for goalies. Some games I was facing seven, eight breakaways a game. I think that's definitely a mental part of the game. The Coast, it's a tricky situation. The top two lines will have skill and there are some guys that can finish opportunities up there. So, it was good for me."

The No. 15 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft went 26-16-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and four shutouts in 46 games. He was tied for second in the ECHL in shutouts, tied for third in wins and GAA, and tied for 10th in save percentage.

Red Wings head of goaltending scouting and development Phil Osaer spent time working with Cossa in Toledo, as did Detroit assistant director of player development Dan Cleary.

What stood out beyond the on-ice results was the mindset Cossa took with him to Toledo.

"Everything is about attitude," Cleary said. "You choose your attitude and he chose a good one. We tell all our young kids, you choose your attitude and work ethic. We can only tell you and guide you so often, but when you look in the mirror or you lay your head on the pillow at night, it's your thoughts and you know what work you put in, what you've done, what you've left on the table.

"Going down there, having a good attitude and playing well, he played really well. [I] got to see him play a lot and I know, just from even talking to him this year, he's starting to become much more mature. I don't want to say he's reserved, because he's a pretty outgoing type of personality as a kid. Guys really like him. And it's great to see his progression, to be honest."

Grand Rapids coach Dan Watson, who coached Toledo last season, saw that progression firsthand, and is looking forward to seeing it continue this season.

"Compared to the beginning of last year, he's grown in terms of his mental aspect of his game, his physical, the way he plays, the way he sees the game," Watson said. "And our goal is to continue to develop him. Just the way he prepares every day has grown leaps and bounds and he's got to continue to do that to make sure he gets better.

"The work ethic's there, the drive's there, the want is there. So, you've just got to make sure we keep on it every day with him."

Cossa said he didn't change much of his offseason training regimen; it was more about building on the fundamentals he worked on with Osaer last season, and taking that into Red Wings training camp.

"Just reading the plays," Cossa said. "It's coming along. I think just the foundation of my style and how I need to play to stop the puck, just continuing to grow confidence in that. At some points I try to do too much. I'm a big guy (6-foot-6, 229 pounds) and at times I need to reel that back and let my size do what it can. Play deeper, don't have to go outside the posts as much, play more inside my posts, really beating the passes laterally and stuff like that. Reading the play and then just understanding the game a bit better."

Detroit remains confident Cossa he can be a big part of its future. But the road to the NHL is paved with incremental improvements; Cleary said the goal this season is for Cossa to play a full season in Grand Rapids and continue to progress in his understanding of the game at the pro level.

"At the end of the day we're on the same page," Cossa said. "They aren't rushing me. They're going to develop me and I'm happy with that. I want to be playing when I'm ready, when I'm able to dominate, when I'm able to go there and really succeed, not just kind of get thrown in there.

"They have all the amenities, the coaching staff, and if I just continue to follow that regimen and work hard, I think we're going to get to where I want to be." independent correspondent Dave Hogg contributed to this report