The big and fast center was consistently one of the highest ranked forwards in this draft class. He generates outstanding speed with a long, powerful stride providing him the ability to blow by opposing defenders with ease. He matches a hard, heavy shot with solid, tape-to-tape passing ability to provide outstanding offensive potential.
Name: Dylan Cozens
Date of Birth: February 9, 2001
Nationality (Place of Birth): Canadian (Whitehorse, YT, Canada)
The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Cozens may not top any category, but he is quite good in every area represented. Producing at a high rate at even strength (ESP60) and doing an excellent job at maintaining a high goals for relative to his team (GF% Rel). Cozens is a difference maker and a close to pro ready center. While there is a chance he plays on the wing at the next level, he has a very strong chance of staying in the middle as a big bodied top-six center. The one area he could stand to improve in is his shot quantity. He doesn’t shoot in major volume but did show signs of improving in that area as the year wore on.
The goal-scoring machine has all the tools to be a difference maker on the offensive end of the ice. Pairing a hard shot with great accuracy gives Cozens the ability to score from virtually anywhere. He has good vision around the ice and while playmaking isn’t his calling card, he makes good, crisp passes to his teammates and has the ability to make good plays to dangerous areas. His large frame does a good job at shielding the puck in junior hockey, but he will likely need to add some muscle to his 6’3″ frame to continue to succeed at the next level.
Cozens is an excellent skater, not just as a big player. He has exceptional top-end speed, a long and powerful stride to create quick acceleration and his edge work is a real plus as well. The ability for him to move like a player four inches shorter, while using his size to push his way past defenders, is a key reason that Cozens is one of the top prospects in the 2019 draft class. He is able to work in and out of traffic to find open ice and get into a dangerous position. He lives in the high-slot area of the ice. He sets up for one-timers and does an excellent job redirecting the puck on the net from the slot. He establishes position against more physically immature opponents with ease but will need to allow his own body to mature to reach the same level of success at the professional level. In the video below, Cozens receives a pass along the boards and begins to build speed through the neutral zone. Once across the blue-line, Cozens is faced with a defender who closes the gap. At this point, Cozens displays soft hands and a good burst as he blows by the defender with a good move and then cuts to the net. He fires a shot short side and beats the goaltender with a good shot.
Dylan Cozens’ goal today. pic.twitter.com/KQ6ir76aWF
— raptors fan since birth (@DraftLook) January 7, 2019
Tweet courtesy of @DraftLook
Despite needing to add weight, the foundation for a solid defensive game are there. His positioning and knowledge of where he needs to be is good. He has the long frame that allows him to reach an disrupt the passing and shooting lanes. While he isn’t afraid to throw his body around defensively, or on the forecheck for that matter, he isn’t fully effective at it due to throwing himself off balance at times and getting lost behind the play. With a bit more weight and physical growth, this should change as he will be able to stay in position while delivering a hit and not getting lost behind the play. Overall the tools for a good defensive game are there, committing to it and working at it over the next couple years will go a long way.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 21, 2019
Video courtesy of @StevenEllisTHN
His compete level is there at all times. He isn’t a player you have to consistently fire up. This is a skill that can’t be taught. In the video above, Cozens does an excellent job at staying with the puck after the initail chance in tight, potting the rebound by playing to the whistle and not allowing the defenders to get to the puck and clear it. A high-motor player who works his rear-end off is a player that can develop at a higher rate than most. While he has a higher floor than most, his ceiling isn’t as high. Cozens is a safe pick, likely to bottom out as a good third line center with two-way ability and scoring touch. The ceiling for Cozens is probably that of a high-end number two center possibly a low-end number one but the cards all have to fall exactly right for that to happen. The tools are there, as is the work ethic, pitting them all together will be key for the Lethbridge leading scorer.
After finishing his rookie season in the WHL with Rookie of the Year honours, Cozens looked poised to explode into the scene this year. His 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 57 games as a rookie meant that the scoring touch was prevalent early in his junior hockey career. Looking to build off the impressive debut season, Cozens would move to center full-time after playing it sparingly in his freshman year. The move was a welcome one, as it allowed the Whitehorse, Yukon native the ability to be engaged at both ends of the ice with the added defensive responsibility of playing center.
Video courtesy of Hockey Prospects Center Youtube channel
His season really began with the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in the summer. With five points in five games, the Canadian with an “A” on his sweater helped lead them to a gold medal finish. Cozens was good in the tournament, starting the year off on the right foot. His draft stock began to rise even more significantly than expected to start the season. The long and lanky center was ready for a tough season of WHL play along with the possibility that he could again suit up for Canada at the World U18 Championship should his team not advance past the first round come playoff time.
Showing Top-line Potential to Open the Season
After a solid performance with Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in the preseason, Cozens started the season strong for the Hurricanes. With 11 points in his first seven games, picking up points in each contest, Cozens began to establish himself as a leader and prime-time offensive threat in the Lethbridge lineup. He dominated competition and chewed through opposing defences in an effort to push his squad despite their poor win-loss total early in the season.
Cozens scoring touch was on display in a late-November game against the Brandon Wheat Kings. Man-handling the opposition at every turn, the high-skill Hurricane was a force to be reckoned with. Scoring three goals and adding three assists in an 8-4 throttling of the Wheat Kings. Cozens was a multi-talented man in the game, scoring in a variety of ways and making quite a few high level plays. His vision was on display all game, as was his spatial awareness in the offensive zone. He seemed to slide into pockets of space with just enough room to make a play. Cozens put on a show for fans and scouts alike.
Leading Lethbridge, Canada’s U18 team
Cozens had an outstanding first half of the season. Coming into January, he totalled 21 goals and 50 points in just 36 games and he was ready to have a big second half building to the playoffs. Cozens responsibilities lessened after the trade deadline, but he remained one of Lethbridge’s most dangerous players.
Video courtesy of Hockey Prospects Center Youtube channel
Despite a modest slow in the point accumulation, only 10 points in 12 games in the month of January, Cozens sat second in the Hurricanes in scoring and continued to play with speed and pace. The smooth skating Cozens was the Hurricanes MVP down the stretch as the entire team began to slow in the second half. Cozens helped maintain the teams standing in the playoffs powered by 24 points in his final 20 games, pushing the Hurricanes as a total offensive catalyst, both as a playmaker and a goal scorer.
Leading the Hurricanes to the second seed in the division, giving them a favourable match-up against the Calgary Hitmen, Cozens continued his strong play in the seven-game first round series. With four goals and four assists in the seven-game series, Cozens did everything in his power to help Lethbridge win. Despite that, a heartbreaking game-seven loss was in the cards for Cozens. This gave him the opportunity to participate at the World U18 Championships with Canada. There Cozens had a very quiet nine points in seven games which would be great if others around the tournament hadn’t outshone him, among many other solid performances. Cozens helped lead Canada to a 4th place finish, losing the the stacked team USA.
What the Detractors Say
The biggest flaw talked about with Cozens is his strength and sturdiness. Although he is 6’3″ he is only 181lbs. He’s very lanky and can be pushed off the puck by bigger opponents but Cozens should add weight as he matures physically over the next couple of years. It’s not particularly uncommon for a player to be “underweight” at this age because their metabolism is still kicking it in high gear and players often have a har stone putting on muscle mass.
A secondary knock on Cozens has been his hockey IQ. While some have boasted about Cozens having an exceptional hockey IQ, others have argued that the speedy center has a tendency to have mental lapses. Where there’s smoke, there is generally fire and this isn’t an exception. While he does suffer from temporary lapses in judgement that have gotten him into trouble, be it turnovers or otherwise, Cozens doesn’t have elite hockey IQ, but it is good. It could be described as immature, likely to develop as he does.
Dylan Cozens will be taken…
Somewhere in the later half of the top-10. Don’t be shocked to see him squeeze his way into the top-five but the 6-10 range seems about where Cozens will go. The potential top-six center will be one of the more interesting prospects on draft night as his rankings have been everywhere from three to 12 throughout the season on many of the top draft rankings. Cozens has a few things going for him that will make sure that he likely sticks in the top-10. Size, speed and shooting ability paired with good playmaking and a decent 200-foot game are such tantalizing skills that a team could easily fall in love with. Teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks would all be great spots for Cozen to be selected. Immediately becoming one of their top prospects, he would fill a need in the near future and could turn into a franchise building block with other young players each of those teams have already in their system.
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