The World Junior Championship ended less than twelve hours ago, with Canada losing the gold medal game to Team USA in a perfect defensive performance. For at least two Canadian players, there was no time to mope around. Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn have already been added to the Buffalo Sabres training camp roster, with John Vogl of The Athletic noting that a private jet left Edmonton in the middle of the night, arriving in Buffalo a few hours later. The team has also signed defenseman Ryan Jones to a professional tryout and will have him at practice today.
Jones, 24, is signed to an AHL contract with the Rochester Americans after four years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha but will get his chance to perform at Sabres camp as well. The 6’2″ defenseman was originally a fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 but became an unrestricted free agent after failing to reach an entry-level contract with them last summer. Jones isn’t an offensive player but could add another minor league depth option for the Sabres to develop.
It’s Cozens and Quinn that will steal the headlines today though, despite their international disappointment last night. The eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Quinn had a solid tournament, scoring five points in seven games but generally looking the part of a junior player. Like many players drafted just a few months ago, he appears to need more seasoning and development time.
Cozens meanwhile looks like he will step directly into the Sabres lineup this season and play a significant role. Serving as one of Team Canada’s rotating captains he was outstanding, scoring 16 points in the seven games and earning tournament All-Star honors. The seventh-overall pick from 2019 is a force coming down the wall, using his 6’3″ frame to shield the puck while speeding towards the net. His ferocious back-checking and defensive stick will make him a coach favorite quickly, even if he does start his NHL career on the wing.
Perhaps though there will be an opening down the middle for Cozens sooner than originally expected. After going down awkwardly in practice, Zemgus Girgensons is dealing with an injury from the first few days in camp. Former NHL defenseman Aaron Ward tweets that Girgensons could be facing a “lengthy absence” and a significant injury. In better news, Jack Eichel and Linus Ullmark were back at practice after missing the first few days.