Each day over the next week leading up to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 21 in Vancouver, we will be taking a look at the top prospects available for the Chicago Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick.
Seventh in the series of prospect profiles is center/wing Dylan Cozens
2018–19 Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes
Date of Birth: February 9, 2001
Place of Birth: Whitehorse, YT, Canada
Weight: 183 pounds
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: NHL Central Scouting Rank No. 5 – North American Skaters
NHL comparable: Jeff Carter
Dylan Cozens is a rare combination of size, speed, strength and skill. The 6-foot-3 183 pound forward scored 34 goals in 68 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes this past season. Cozens uses his size to find space in front of the net, fighting off defenders for loose pucks and hard fought goals. The Whitehorse, Yukon native can also use his speed to beat defenders with a second gear that many could not handle in the WHL.
Cozens ability to play in all three zones is something that is overlooked because of his size and speed coming up the ice. He has a long reach and almost freakish strength at 183 pounds, that will be a plus at the NHL level. Cozens flashes the ability to overpower and take pucks away from opponents. But although he has an appetite for physical play, he is not a player who will take himself out of position by playing recklessly.
When compared with fellow WHL’er Kirby Dach, what jumps out is that while Cozens might not quite match Dach’s hands and smoothness, he has a powerful base and looks more projectable as a sheer power player—with ample skill. And like Dach, he might not be far from NHL ready in terms of physical maturity.
For as good as he is without the puck or when shooting, Cozens is a crafty playmaker. He plays a simple game with the puck and does not try to force plays. Cozens takes what the defense gives him. Whether it’s a dump in, an impressive dangle or using his speed, he is a weapon that can beat a defense many different ways.
Top line center/wing.
At barely 18 and with plenty of room to fill out his large frame, Cozens’ unique package of raw skills and physical attributes presents the team drafting him with several creative options. He could be effective strictly as an up and down sheer speed winger with added size and strength, a la former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth. Or he may, potentially, be a foundational center man in the mold of Jonathan Toews. Or, on the lower end projection, a really good 2nd line center who can move out to wing, like Jeff Carter.
Ranking Cozens has been something of a puzzle to many pundits. Cozens has been ranked as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 12. He is, regardless, a high floor player, because of his size/speed combination and high end skill. The question is how high his ceiling is, and at what position(s).
Implications for the Blackhawks
With a need for a center that can play with size and speed, the Chicago Blackhawks should entertain serious consideration toward drafting Cozens with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Having Jonathan Toews on hand to mentor Cozens would be a plus. Cozens can learn the small things that make a player with size and speed successful at the NHL level. His ability to play right wing could also facilitate a faster jump to the NHL level more quickly, especially with Toews and Dylan Strome most likely holding down the top two center spots in the near future.
Do not be surprised if Cozens comes off the board at No. 3. And don’t be disappointed if he does.
While most Hawk tweeters have “narrowed” the team’s choices to Alex Turcotte and Bowen Byram, the fact is, the team has analyzed Cozens (and others) closely. That said, with the possible exception of consensus second overall selection Kappo Kaako, no player in this draft projects as more of a physical force with speed and skill. They say “the game has changed,” favoring speed and skill—which Cozens has in abundance—while also having the size and strength that are still necessary to help a team win Stanley Cups.
What others are saying
“Dylan Cozens is a consistent player who has very good finishing ability. He has good vision and can be dominant below the dots. His cycle game and his ability to get to the net stand out as hallmarks of his game.”
—McKeens Hockey Draft Guide
“This man child isn’t through filling in or building his muscle. Makes everyone around him better. Will cause problems in front, or from the perimeters. Exploits the defense and reads linemates well. Fluid non-stop player who plays hockey smart and would fly through a wall to help his team win. Can project as a big centre as well as a big wing. The sky’s the limit.”
—Bill Placzek, draftsite.com