The Detroit Red Wings traded up in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft to select goaltender Sebastian Cossa and now they aren’t wasting any time getting him under contract. The team has announced that Cossa has inked his three-year entry-level contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Red Wings and Cossa is a pairing that seemed destined by fate. For a long time, it seemed as though Swedish standout Jesper Wallstedt was locked in as the top goaltender of the 2021 draft class and could possibly even be a top-ten pick. It also was predictable that Detroit would select a top goalie this year, the missing piece in their deep and talented pipeline. With the Red Wings struggling through another difficult season, the team was going to end up with a draft slot that allowed them to take Wallstedt if they wanted. Yet, as the season wore on and Cossa followed up a strong 2019-20 season in the WHL with even better numbers in 2020-21, he began to close the gap with Wallstedt. With two potential first-round goalies, this also lowered Wallstedt’s own draft stock and meant that Detroit did not need to use their No. 6 overall pick to land a goalie if they could move back or find another selection. After adding another first-round pick in the Anthony Mantha trade, many expected that the Red Wings would be able to use that late selection to take Wallstedt or, if he had already been selected, Cossa. Instead, Detroit traded No. 23, No. 48, and No. 138 to swap with the Dallas Stars at No. 15. But instead of taking Wallstedt, as many had long expected, the Red Wings selected Cossa, whose meteoric rise was responsible for either goalie still being there in the first place. (Wallstedt would be selected five picks later, as the Minnesota Wild moved up to get him as well.)
While Detroit was clearly happy to get their man in Cossa and have now committed to him with an entry-level deal, expect the impressive prospect to return to junior next season. Even though Cossa’s .941 save percentage and 1.57 GAA for the Edmonton Oil Kings last season was nothing short of spectacular and suggests that he may not have much development left to do at the junior level, the performance came in a very small sample size. The 6’6″ netminder needs to get back to a starter’s schedule and show that he can play at that level consistently. The pros are no place for an 18-year-old goalie, especially one with only 52 games of major junior experience. The Red Wings and Cossa can be excited about the future while remaining patient in the present.