History will be made on June 21 at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver as Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens is projected to become the first first-round pick selected from the Yukon since the draft was first held 56 years ago.
Ranked fifth among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, the Lethbridge Hurricanes forward is very, very likely to be selected in the top 10.
Here’s a crash course on the key facts about the six-foot-three centre so you’re the smartest one at the water cooler Monday morning.
The story so far
The 18-year-old was selected by the Hurricanes 19th overall in the 2016 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft, while playing for the Delta Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) bantam prep division.
Cozens spent the 2016-2017 season playing for the Yale Hockey Academy Prep team in the CSSHL, where he put up 57 points — 27 goals and 30 assists — in 30 games.
He also made his WHL debut that season, playing three regular-season games for the Hurricanes and adding eight points in 12 playoff games.
In 2017-2018, his first full season for Lethbridge — not counting time lost due to a shoulder injury — Cozens scored 22 goals and added 31 assists for 53 points in 57 regular-season games for the club. In 16 playoff games, Cozens added seven goals and six assists with a plus/minus rating of +3.
That year, Cozens was also awarded the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL Rookie of the Year.
Cozens also played for Team Canada Red at the 2017 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, notching seven points in six games.
Prior to the start of the 2018-2019 season, he wore an “A” for Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, potting four goals and recording five assists as Canada won gold.
In this past season, Cozens scored a team-high 84 points — 34 goals and 50 assists — for Lethbridge with an impressive plus/minus of +32 in 68 games.
Although the Hurricanes were bounced from the playoffs by Calgary after a seven-game first-round series, Cozens put up eight points in the losing effort.
Although the internet and social media makes it easy to keep track of things like draft results and player stats, things get a little less clear as one looks further back. Information here is based on official NHL records — which aren’t so clear on the difference between hometown and birthplace — so other databases, like EliteProspects.com and HockeyDB.com, were used to fill in some of the gaps as necessary.
Per NHL draft records, Cozens should become the first player born in the Yukon to be drafted since 2002 — Gerard Dicaire, born in Faro, was selected in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Lightning after originally being selected in the second round of the 2000 draft by the Buffalo Sabres — and Cozens should also become the first player from the territories selected since Yellowknife’s Stephen Hodges was taken in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Florida Panthers.
Cozens is also set to become the fifth Yukoner drafted at all. Aside from Dicaire, Whitehorse’s Bobby House was selected in the third round of the 1991 draft by Chicago and Peter Sturgeon — also from Whitehorse — was selected in the second round of the 1974 draft by Boston. Jarrett Deuling, drafted in the third round of the 1992 draft by the New York Islanders, was born in Vernon, B.C., but raised in Whitehorse.
He is also on pace to become the first player from the territories selected in the first round since Gregory Vaydik from Yellowknife was selected seventh overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1975.
What happens next
The first round of the 2019 NHL Draft is happening June 21 beginning at 5 p.m. at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Sport Yukon and Special Olympics Yukon are hosting a free draft party at the Sport Yukon building beginning at 4:30 p.m. Due to space limitations, attendees are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org beforehand.
Which team picks Cozens is going to be the biggest factor in what’s next for the forward, but assuming he doesn’t spend next season in the NHL it’s fair to say he and his teammates in Lethbridge will look to build on last year’s results and continue the quest for a Memorial Cup.
In a press release issued June 19, Hockey Canada included Cozens on a list of 43 prospects invited to the summer development camp in preparation for the World Junior Hockey Championships. Although traditionally a tournament dominated by 19-year-old players, Cozens is one of eight players from the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup to get an invite.
As far as the NHL goes, rounds two through seven of the entry draft are on June 22 beginning at 10 a.m. and the interview window for unrestricted free agents opens June 25, although free agency doesn’t officially start until July 1.
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This story has been updated to include information about Jarrett Deuling, who was born in B.C. but raised in the Yukon.