One of the top prospects for almost the entire season, Dylan Cozens has seen his draft stock take a slight dip to close out the campaign.
It’s true that Cozens didn’t blow anyone out of the water with his performance in the WHL playoffs or the U18 World Juniors. Mentioning that likely casts a shadow on a player that doesn’t really deserve it; Cozens had a great draft season as a whole, and should certainly still be a top ten pick in this upcoming entry draft.
Today we’ll take a closer look at Lethbridge Hurricanes forward.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / February 9, 2001
- Birthplace: Whitehorse, YT, Canada
- Frame: 6-foot-3 / 183 lbs
- Position: C/RW
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes
- BC Hockey Bantam T3 Champion
- CSSHL Most Points (57)
- WHL Most Goals by Rookie (22)
- WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Trophy)
- Hlinka Gretzky Cup Champion
- Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Simply put, Cozens is very good at everything. In saying that, it feels like that takes away from how good is at each individual thing. Sometimes we use that as a catch-all phrase for a player that isn’t elite at anything and thus the sum of their parts is what should allow them to be successful.
In Cozens case, it’s the same idea: the sum of his parts is what sets him apart from other prospects, but in a more elite sense.
There is so much to like about his offensive play. Cozens is a fantastic puck possession player thanks to his puck skills and deking abilities. He can do these things at speed with so much ease that he leaves opponents in the dust before they even have time to react.
Once he creates that space, he has a deceptive release that easily beats goaltenders. One aspect that stands out about his shot is that it’s very much in his arms and hands, and not so much a full stance. It looks very similar to the shooting style of Canucks forward Brock Boeser.
Examples of his puck skills, deking, and the shooting position are on display on this goal:
Cozens appears to be running out of room and under most circumstances, a player would chip the puck along the boards to the corner. Instead, Cozens is able to drag the puck through the Oil Kings defender and attack the open space. A 2-on-1 is created and Cozens cleanly beats the goalie.
A slowed down version of the play provides a closer look at the shot:
His shot isn’t the only attribute to his offensive arsenal. Cozens is very good at using those puck skills to create space for himself, which forces his opponents to come at him. Then he threads it to open teammates, as in the clip below:
There have been suggestions that Cozens is a pure goal scorer, but that doesn’t do justice to his play-making abilities. In my opinion, he is a well rounded offensive player who thrives with linemates that think the game at the same level as he does. He can slide into the role of being the shooter or can be the playmaker.
Cozens will deke through people to make plays happen and isn’t afraid to engage along the boards as well. His frame (6-foot-3 and 185 pounds) allows him to dictate where he wants to go and take the puck with him. He will need to add more strength to do those same things at the professional level, but that isn’t a concern as he has the projectable frame.
The right-handed forward likes to be physical as well. He will make sure to finish his checks along the boards and isn’t afraid to line up big open ice hits. He doesn’t put himself out of position to make these happen, but won’t pass up a chance to get physical when the opportunity presents itself.
Cozens is a fantastic skater that thrives on his ability to shift his weight from edge to edge at the drop of a hat. It’s even more impressive given his size. He has strong two-step quickness and top speed that should take another step forward over the next couple of years.
The Yellowknife native is such a smart and skilled player that there are very little concerns about his play without the puck. He works smartly to box out opponents and limit their options. Cozens uses the aforementioned skating abilities to hound opponents and force turnovers. With most draft prospects, you see some holes to their defensive game, but that isn’t the case with Cozens. He was a regular on the Hurricanes penalty kill unit and was extremely effective in that role.
Cozens is a complete prospect and there is so much to like about his game. He is able to create offence in a variety of ways and has such a remarkable release to his shot. He can play centre and wing and easily slides between the two.
Cozens ended the season with 84 points (34-50-84) in 68 games with the Hurricanes, which was good enough to lead the team. He followed that up with four goals and four assists in seven playoff games.
His regular season production gives him a 49% likelihood of becoming an NHL regular.
That success rate isn’t overly surprising given his production and his size. Basically, he did everything that you could have hoped from a player that was ranked in the top five all year. He got to that level of hype because of his production in his D minus one season, where he scored twenty-two goals and thirty-one assists in fifty-seven games. That production in his D-1 year allows us to give a representation of his year over year likelihood
For his efforts in 2017-18, he was named the WHL Rookie of the Year. I bring this up because he entered this season with a lot of expectations and he played so well that he remained at the top of this draft class all year long. Some players enter their draft season after a fantastic D-1 season and slowly fall down. Cozens didn’t do that because of how well he played and produced.
In my opinion, that is part of the reason why there are whispers that the ‘Cozens train has slowed’. In actuality, he was still performing well, putting up those aforementioned eight points in the WHL playoffs and following that up nine points in seven games at the U18 World Juniors. That final tally was good for third in scoring on Team Canada.
The fact that his team got upset in the first round, and that Canada wasn’t able to secure a medal, shouldn’t directly impact Cozens stock. In fact, there are other players that had similar things happen to them and are instead getting praised for their performance.
If you take a look at his 5 on 5 per scoring rates, Cozens had a dip with 10 games left to go in the season but quickly got back up to the same production as the beginning of the season.
Avoiding recency bias with these top players is paramount and Cozens is a prime example of that. He has all the tools to be a standout top six player in the NHL and shouldn’t see his placement affected by those aforementioned issues. Cozens should be the first Canadian Hockey League forward taken.
The Hurricanes forward was among the leaders in this draft class for involvement percentage (31%). He was 11th in the WHL in points and 17th in points per game.
Looking at just the first time draft eligible players in the WHL, Cozens ranks as follows:
That’s pretty great production, and it shows how well balanced of an attack he created.
The scouting report started with talking about how the best way to describe Cozens as a well-rounded offensive player, as we can see, he does everything so well. He has some dazzling puck skills, fantastic release, nice playmaking, responsible defensive play, and all while playing the game with such a high hockey IQ. Don’t let his little dips at any point this season take away from what kind of year he had.
Cozens will provide an instant boost to any team’s prospect pool and could very be in the NHL within two years.
Additional Charts and Data
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and whl.ca.
Check out Dylan Cozen’s Prospect Shifts page here (paywall).
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
Father of two and decent husband.
I watch the game.