2018-19 Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (#24)
Date of Birth: February 9, 2001
Place of Birth: Whitehorse, Yukon
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 5th (final)
- Future Considerations: 7th (Spring)
- ISS: 5th (April)
- Bob McKenzie: 5th (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 6th (March)
The 2019 NHL Draft class is one of the better Western Hockey League classes in several seasons. It boasts a strong all-around centre in Kirby Dach, a strong offensive defender in Bowen Byram, and a really intriguing offensive centre in the form of Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens.
Cozens is a really fun player to watch and one that WHL area scouts have been excited about for several reasons. He’s a high end offensive talent with a unique combination of size, speed and skill. He’s not a liability in any end of the ice, but the offensive zone is where he shines – he can use his large frame to create room to release his shot, or to open up space for his teammates.
The question marks about Cozens’ game somewhat stem from how sheltered he’s been, particularly this season. Fellow top WHL draft prospects Peyton Krebs (with the Kootenay ICE) and Kirby Dach (with the Saskatoon Blades) play on shallower teams, so they have to play in key situations and against top competition often. Cozens played on a really deep Hurricanes team in 2018-19, which allowed him a bit of breathing room in which to operate.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
That said, Cozens did exactly what you would hope he would do with the space he was afforded. Given the breathing room, he delivered – he was 11th in the entire WHL in points and fifth at even strength, both first among WHL first-time draft eligible skaters. He was one of his team’s offensive leaders and put his team on his back at various times.
For the past two seasons, the hockey world has seen Cozens with his training wheels on. Given the opportunity to play with the puck, he’s been good and occasionally great. The Hurricanes are losing five top forwards this off-season due to players moving onto the pros or aging out of major junior, so Cozens will be called upon to really carry the team. He’ll need to round out his play away from the puck, but his superb offensive mind and talents should give the ‘Canes a chance to win on most nights.
Simply put, he’s one of the top offensive players available in the 2019 NHL Draft. He might not be as versatile or rounded out as Krebs or Dach, but he’s a strong power forward – he’s a muscle car, not an SUV – and he could be exactly what NHL clubs are looking for early in the first round.
Dylan Cozens – NHL Draft Projection
Based on his skill-set, size and the position he plays, Cozens will be in high demand early in the first round. He’s likely to be selected somewhere between fourth overall and eighth overall.
“Cozens has all of the skills you want to see in a top line center. He skates very well, he can make plays from the half wall, has a great release and drives the net very well. He can play as a net front presence and does not shy away from the home plate area in the offensive zone. He excels in the rush game and as a dual threat as a shooter and passer which makes him lethal.” – Vince Gibbons, McKeen’s Hockey
“A big, strong and powerful 6-foot-3, 181-pound centre who plays for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Cozens is a unique story, born in Whitehorse in Yukon Territory. Cozens has 25 goals and 58 points in 45 games this season. He’s the opposite of [Kirby] Dach in many respects. Cozens is a shoot-first centre with a tremendous shot. He is a fast and powerful skater who plays a bullish power game.” – Bob McKenzie, TSN
- Excellent at using his size and speed on the offensive side of the puck.
- Great shot, accurate with a quick release.
- Strong hockey sense, knows where to be at all times (especially in offensive zone)
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to round out his game with a bit more attention to detail on the defensive side of the game.
- Needs to be more effective at winning face-offs.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Cozens projects as a first or second line power forward centre. He likely won’t quarterback an NHL power play, as his skills are more towards shooting than puck distribution, but he could be a prime shooter off the half-boards. His game skews a bit towards Leon Draisaitl or Joe Pavelski, in terms of large “shoot-first” centres.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 9/10, Defense 7.5/10
Cozens was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2017-18. He has represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the Under-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, capturing gold in the latter tournament.
Cozens will become the second Yukon-born player to ever be selected in the NHL Draft (after 1974 pick Peter Sturgeon) and likely the first to be taken in the first round
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.