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Prospect Profile: Dylan Cozens

Why the center could be an option for the Sabres with the 7th pick

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Beyond the top two picks, the first round of this year's NHL Draft figures to be as unpredictable as ever. 

Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, in some order, will almost certainly be the first two players off the board on June 21. After that, the consensus seems to be that it's a deep first round with a fairly wide range of players who could fall in the top 10.  

Having said that, it's important to cast a wide net when trying to predict who the Sabres might select with the seventh overall selection. Today, we'll look at Lethbridge center Dylan Cozens.

 

Dylan Cozens, C - Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) 

Video: 1-on-1 with Dylan Cozens

Cozens has as interesting an origin story as any in this draft. He was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, a Canadian territory that has only produced two NHL players. By age 12, he was playing against grown men. At 14, he left home to join the Delta Hockey Academy near Vancouver. 

The move paid off. Cozens was the WHL's rookie of the year in 2017-18, then scored 84 points (34+50) in 68 games for Lethbridge last season. He tallied nine in seven games for Canada at U-18 Worlds in April and was the fifth-ranked North American prospect in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. 

Like fellow Canadian center Kirby Dach, Cozens offers a blend of size and speed with his 6-foot-3, 183-pound frame. He's been labeled as an explosive player who's at his best when carrying the puck with speed.

At the combine, he came off as confident in his own abilities without sounding arrogant. 

"I believe after this summer here I'll be ready to make the jump to the NHL right away," he said. "I see myself as a two-way centerman in the league who can play all areas of the game and help out teams a lot."


What he's saying

On making the jump to the NHL next season: "I think my skating is the best part of my game and I definitely believe that my skating is at the top of this draft, and that separates me from some guys, I think, in that area. It will help me be NHL ready."

On becoming an NHL prospect from the Yukon: "I just think I was given lots of natural talents and then just on my backyard rink, I believed that I had what it took to make it to the next level. I gave it my all and I worked as hard as I could. This was always my dream, to be in the NHL. I chased it and I worked as hard as I could to get there."


What they're saying 

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


Why he could be selected at 7

Like the two centers we've already discussed, Cozens' destination in the top 10 depends on who you ask. NHL.com's three draft experts have him going third, fourth and eighth in their latest mock draft. The Athletic's Corey Pronman has him going seventh to the Sabres.

Sabres director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski said the organization is confident it will be getting a good player with the seventh pick. We're beginning to see why. 

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