By Warren Kozireski
It would have been a whirlwind three months for anyone of any age—getting drafted seventh overall in the first round by the Buffalo Sabres in late June in Vancouver along with prospect training camp in Buffalo mere days later. But add a thumb injury that required surgery and the subsequent rehabilitation, and the whirlwind became a sandstorm.
Dylan Cozens wasn’t on the original roster released earlier in the week for their annual Prospect Tournament with Pittsburgh, Boston and New Jersey held at HarborCenter the weekend after Labor Day. But there he was centering the third line between 2018 fourth round selection Matej Pekar, who is likely ticketed for Rochester this season, and 2019 sixth round pick Lukas Rousek from the Czech Republic.
“I felt good; it was a fast game (with) lots of good players and everyone was competing hard, so it was good to get my legs under me again and go out and play hockey,” Cozens said postgame. “There weren’t too many surprises to be honest, there were so many good players here who can play.
“They (the coaches) gave us some systems to follow and neutral zone forecheck[WK1] .”
The 6’3”, 180 lb. Yukon native netted 34 goals with 50 assists in 68 games with Lethbridge in the Western Hockey League last season and is likely ticketed to return there this season.
With his seventh overall draft slot, he became the highest in the Lethbridge Hurricanes 32-year franchise history bettering Brent Seabrook and Zach Boychuk, who were both taken 14th overall. He is the sixth in franchise history to be selected in the first round.
“Dylan played very well, especially with his injury and his first game really competing,” Rochester head coach Chris Taylor said. “I thought he was smart and thought he did a really good job on faceoffs and I used him on penalty kills as well.”
“It’s obviously unfortunate to have to get surgery and miss a summer of upper body training, but I don’t think I missed out on much,” Cozens said. “I felt really strong and focused on other things (like) my lower body strength and, to be completely honest, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.
“Obviously I didn’t skate that much this summer so, to get in and get some ice and play against some real competition and physical games is definitely going to prepare me for main camp, so it’s important.”
(Photo by Koz)