Rangers Draft Prep: Scouting Dylan Cozens

(Photo: Doug Westcott)

In just a few short weeks now the NHL season will be at its end and the playoffs will begin. This year of course, the New York Rangers will unfortunately not be apart of the playoffs once again but during a rebuild this is to be expected.

With the playoffs being a non-factor, Rangers brass will turn their full attention to the draft lottery and the entry draft once the regular season ends. Expect another high draft pick this year with the potential of picking top five. We have recently stepped up our coverage of prospects on the site and we continue our prospect series today with a draft profile on one of my personal favorites in this upcoming draft: Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens.

Background

Cozens, a Whitehorse, Yukon native, is 6’3” and 185 pounds. He can play both the center and wing positions and is currently ranked as high as third on some scouting boards for the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Cozens is currently in his second full season with Lethbridge and his numbers have seen a massive increase from year one to year two. During his first season, Cozens played 57 games and put up 53 points (22 goals and 31 assists). He essentially had point per game pace as a 17-year-old in the WHL and he began to really catch the eye of scouts. Cozens also won the WHL’s Jim Piggott Trohpy (Rookie of the Year) award in his first full season.

Move forward into his second season and Cozens had greatly improved his point totals and shown how dominant of a player he can be. He currently sits at 76 points through 62 games (31 goals and 45 assists) and with a few games to go still in the WHL’s season he is almost certainly going to top the 80 point mark and could push for 90 if he goes on a nice run here at the end.

The Rangers have done a masterful job at stocking up on prospects these past few seasons but they are lacking in forwards with a mix of high end skill and good size. Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov are basically the Rangers two big offensive prospects, with no disrespect intended to Lias Andersson here. Cozens is a big right shot forward who can pay at all three forward positions and would be an extremely valuable asset for the Rangers going forward. He has the ability to be an elite offensive talent in the NHL. Now just what makes Cozens so special?

A high octane power forward who can play both center and wing”

The Draft Analyst, Steve Kournianos, says it all right there. Cozens is non-stop worker on the ice and he has the wheels to make it all happen. It’s important that we discuss Cozens’ skating as it’s one of the strongest things about his game. He can get around the ice with ease and one of the reasons he is ranked so high by scouts and analysts are because his skating is extremely strong. In today’s NHL, you absolutely need to know how to skate. Gone are the days when you could get by on shot alone; you need to be able to get around the ice with ease. Cozens has the quickness and explosiveness in his skating to succeed at the NHL level.

Cozens’ skating isn’t the only dynamic thing about him of course. He possesses some fantastic hockey I.Q. and has an eye for the ice that few his age do. He is great at finding those tiny gaps to get passes through to his linemates and he has excellent puck control, even at high speeds. Certain players just see the game differently than others and Cozens is one of those guys who can make those high impact plays when you need them. Let’s not forget about his shot as he possesses one of the lethal variety. His wrist shot is fantastic and when he decides to rip it, look out. His shot is extremely accurate.

You’ll also be happy to know that Cozens is not a one dimensional player at all. The guy kills penalties and plays in all situations. That’s essential in today’s NHL for an elite type player to be able to help out in any situation the team might be in and Cozens does not shy away from the spotlight. He finishes he checks as well and although that may get him into a little trouble on occasion, his skating ability cover up some mistakes he might make.

You want a guy to run the power-play? Look no further. Game on the line in the 3rd period and you need a big play? Get Cozens out there. You want someone to eat up minutes on your top line? Look no further. Cozens will be a home run prospect for whichever team gets him on draft day. Now let’s take a look at some tape.

Hlinka-Gretzky 2018 Highlights

Let’s break down a few of Cozen’s best plays from this video of him at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. For starters, the clip at 16 seconds shows of Cozens’ awesome shot. He puts Canada up 4-0 against the Swiss with by getting into a perfect position, getting a nice feed and ripping the puck past the goaltender on the power-play.. The play at 1:39 is another favorite of mine. He gets up the ice super quick, uses his size to power past a swiss defender and very nearly scores a highlight reel goal. The clip at 1:39 is an excellent example of Cozens using his skating ability, size and power to create a prime scoring chance for his team.

At 2:03 we have yet another great play. Cozens grabs the puck off the wall and uses his skating ability to move to the middle of the ice, get around two defenders and very nearly rip a highlight reel goal off. Another fantastic play by the young forward. At 2:32, we have another fantastic highlight. This clip showcases his strength on the puck and how he can maneuver through traffic with ease. Cozens’ zone-entry in that clip is particularly noteworthy. At 2:58 we see a beautiful rush up the ice from Cozens and a great pinpoint pass that showcases how he can make those awesome plays in tight. Finally, the clip at 6:18 is awesome as Cozens creates a breakaway opportunity right off the faceoff. Just great stuff from the young kid.

Bonus video: Cozens’ award-winning rookie season highlights. Enjoy!

Projection and likelihood of becoming a Ranger

While Cozens can indeed play all three forward positions, many see him as a winger at the next level. Obviously, him being a big time center isn’t out of the question either. He will almost certainly be a top-line player in the NHL and if not, he could be a dynamic second line winger or center to create a bevy of matchup problems for his opponents. If he does join the Broadway Blueshirts, having a top-six forward corps of Mika Zibanejad, Vitali Kravtsov, Dylan Cozens, Filip Chytil, Chris Kreider and possibly even Artemi Panarin depending on free agency would be terrifying for opponents in years to come.

Now we need to answer one final question: Will he be a Ranger? It’s super tough to say at this point as the Rangers will most certainly need a top-five pick to draft him. He is going to go early at the draft in Vancouver and with good reason. If the Rangers lose a few more games down the stretch a top-five pick is certainly possible and they could even have some lottery luck and move into the top three. It’s certainly a little difficult seeing Cozens becoming a Ranger at this point but it could happen.

There’s also some evidence to suggest GM Jeff Gorton and the scouting staff are high on the kid. This past week, four scouts were sent to watch Lethbridge play Saskatoon. Cozens of course plays for Lethbridge and fellow 2019 draft prospect Kirby Dach plays for Saskatoon. The Rangers are clearly invested in both if they sent four scouts to that game; is a trade into the top-five possible if the Rangers don’t get lucky enough to land one of those picks? It could be in the cards.

Dylan Cozens is a fantastic all-around prospect and the Rangers would be lucky to call his name come draft time in June.

(Featured Image courtesy of LethbridgeNewsNOW)o