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COMBINE: Yukon's Cozens in uncharted territory

"I love to share my story. I'm so proud to be from there and so proud to represent it," said Whitehorse, YT native and projected top-10 pick Dylan Cozens.

by Tony Brar /

BUFFALO, NY - It's not often you hear about an NHL hockey player from Yukon Territory.

In fact, it's been nearly 40 years since Peter Sturgeon (six games with the Colorado Rockies) and former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Bryon Baltimore (two games) last laced up their skates at the NHL level.

Much like Sturgeon - a 1974 second-round pick of the Boston Bruins - Whitehorse, YT native Dylan Cozens will have the opportunity to have his named called at this year's NHL Draft in Vancouver.

NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater brings quick feet, an effective two-way game and a 6-foot-3, 181-pound frame to the table - all points of emphasis for NHL teams speaking to him this weekend. However, according to the young centre, a main talking point during the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine has also been the uniqueness of his birthplace.

Video: COMBINE | Dylan Cozens

"It gets brought up a lot but it's my story," said Cozens during Friday's media availability. "I love to share my story. I'm so proud to be from there and so proud to represent it.

"Growing up there, it always seemed like it was a farfetched dream (to play in the NHL). Now that the Draft is coming up and I'm here at the Combine, it's a little surreal. It's definitely pretty crazy."

With longer winters out in Whitehorse, Cozens took advantage of the elements growing up. Every year, his parents would build a backyard rink for the young centre, maximizing his opportunity to hone his skills and ultimately have the confidence to soon play at the game's highest level.

"I believe I was given a lot of natural talent and then just from my backyard rink, I believed I had what it took to get to the next level," said Cozens. "I gave it my all and always worked as hard as I could. This is always been my dream - to be in the NHL. I've chased it and I've worked as hard as I could to get there."

As Cozens continued to make his way through the ranks, he was eventually selected with the 19th-overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Fast forward three years and the centreman is coming off an 84-point season (34G, 50A).

Video: COMBINE | Bob Green on the Combine

According to NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, Cozens' game is well-rounded and offers a unique set of skills for a player of his size - almost as unique as where he's from.

"He's a young man who's still growing into his frame and he brings a lot to the table when it comes to speed because speed can help dictate what you do on the ice. He's shown that he's got the hockey sense and the scoring ability. One of the things that we liked, every game that we were at, when he's on the ice, he finds a way to generate a scoring chance.

"The fact that he's from the Yukon, he's an interesting story and it's an interesting byline."

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