EDMONTON, AB - In a class chalk-full of intriguing and skilled forwards with varying skill-sets, you'll be hard-pressed to find two mock drafts where the top 10 looks exactly the same with the 2019 NHL Draft just weeks away.
With the likes of a pure scorer in Cole Caufield, crafty playmaker Trevor Zegras or the speedy and versatile centre Alex Turcotte, it's shaping up to be a pick-your-poison situation for forwards available in this year's first round. And another that has worked himself into the conversation is the lean, tall, two-way workhorse centre Dylan Cozens of the WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes, NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater.
Video: COMBINE | Dylan Cozens
Despite a 6-foot-3, 181-pound frame that often doesn't lend itself to superior skating ability, the scouting report on Cozens' wheels and stride is that they're not just good for his size, but strong overall. His skating combined with his size and puck-carrying abilities have scouts likening the 18-year-old to a runaway freight train when bursting through the neutral zone after reaching top speed.
Cozens' 2018-19 WHL season with Lethbridge saw him tally 34 goals and 50 helpers, leading the Hurricanes in regular-season points with 84 in 68 contests, while adding four goals and four helpers in seven post-season appearances before a first-round exit at the hands of the Calgary Hitmen. Further adding to his stock and pre-draft hype was a strong appearance with Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton. The Whitehorse, Yukon product tallied five points in as many contests against the best U-18 talent on the planet, including the dramatic yet controversial game-tying goal in the dying seconds of the semi-final vs. the Americans to send it to OT. The Canadians would win and eventually go on to earn gold over Sweden in the Final.
Video: COMBINE | Dylan Cozens
According to the NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, Cozens' game is multi-faceted and well-rounded, already touting a tool box of skills unique for a player of his size.
"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 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."
Video: COMBINE | Recap with Sam Cosentino
With visions of becoming just the third Yukon-born player to lace them up in the NHL, Cozens comes with a unique backstory, one that he said often came up in his pre-draft tours at the NHL Combine with media and teams, but one that he's proud of, wearing it like a badge of honour.
"I love to share my story. I'm so proud to be from there and so proud to represent it," said Cozens.
"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."
With a draft class full of tempting forwards, Cozens touts an intriguing portfolio of size combined with skating ability, a shoot-first mentality and a penchat to push the pace of a game. He doesn't tend to overwhelm with flash but his ability to make simple and effective plays at top speed is well-documented. There's no doubt that teams stepping to the podium inside the top 10 will have taken a long look at Cozens, and count the Edmonton Oilers amongst them with the eighth-overall selection.
"I met with them multiple times, it went well and I hope I'm on their radar," said Cozens to EdmontonOilers.com at the NHL Combine.