Dylan Cozens has become the first player from the Yukon to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. The Buffalo Sabres took the 6-foot-3, 183-pound Canadian center with the seventh-overall pick Friday night in the 2019 edition of the draft.
Cozens was the WHL's rookie of the year in 2017-18, then scored 84 points (34+50) in 68 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL 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, who was selected third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, 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. He said he models his game after Islanders forward Mathew Barzal.
Video: 1-on-1 with Dylan Cozens
"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," NHL director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "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."
He can become just the third player born in the Yukon to play in an NHL game, joining Peter Sturgeon (6 GP from 1979-81) and Bryon Baltimore (2 GP in 1979-80). The only Yukon-born players drafted by an NHL team prior to Cozens were Sturgeon (36th overall in 1974 by Boston) and Bobby House (66th overall in 1991 by Chicago, who are also from Cozens' hometown of Whitehorse.
NHL.com draft analyst Guillaume Lepage has called Cozens "one of the fastest and most threatening forwards in the 2019 draft class."