Though he won’t be participating in the Buffalo Sabres’ on-ice camps while he rehabs from thumb surgery, Dylan Cozens has signed his three-year entry-level contract. Cozens was the seventh overall pick in this June’s draft, but was given a 2-3 month recovery timeline following surgery ten days ago. If the 18-year old forward returns to the WHL this season, his contract would slide forward a year.
The Sabres were thrilled to get Cozens in the draft this year, after he was considered a potential top-3 pick at points during the season. Though other forwards leapfrogged him by the time draft day rolled around, there’s a ton for Buffalo fans to get excited about with the young center. One of the best skaters in the entire draft class, Cozens used his speed and size to steamroll the competition in the WHL, scoring 34 goals and 84 points in 68 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He was a real difference maker for the Canadian U18 team as well, winning gold at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and adding nine points in seven games at the U18 World Juniors.
Unfortunately the injury means that Cozens likely won’t be able to compete for a spot with Buffalo right out of training camp. If that’s true and he returns to Lethbridge, he would also likely be on the U20 World Junior team in December and could potentially be a candidate for WHL MVP. His game is already relatively refined at both ends of the rink, but with some time to add even more strength he could quickly prove too much for junior.