Detroit, things are starting to look up finally.
After taking defenseman Simon Edvinsson at No. 6 in the NHL draft on Friday, the Detroit Red Wings traded up from 23rd to get Sebastian Cossa, a 6-foot-7 goaltender out of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
And it’s going to really pay off in the long run.
Sure, many fans were hoping for Jesper Wallstedt, the Swedish sensation that had one of the best U-20 seasons ever seen in the SHL. But grabbing Cossa – a goalie many scouts picked to be the No. 1 goalie selected this year – looks like a smart one.
Goalies are a tough breed to predict because the development path is often so much different than a skater playing in nearly every game in a season goes through. But this year, scouts seemed excited about the goalies available, with Wallstedt and Cossa both projected to go in the first round nearly all season long. When the pick makes sense, it makes sense, and Detroit moved up to get the guy they wanted.
The Red Wings have amassed a solid prospect base through the draft in recent years, but didn’t have a clear No. 1 goalie of the future. The Red Wings acquired Alex Nedeljkovic earlier this week, but Cossa really brings something to the table that few goalies can: extreme size.
“He’s one of those guys that you come down on him and instead of seeing the holes, you see the body,” a scout told The Hockey News for Draft Preview. “He’s just that big, and he really plays to his size. You have to beat him because he’s very structured and he doesn’t make problems for himself.”
Of course, you can’t just expect a goalie to be good just because of his size. But he added a bit of mass to his game and covers the net so well, and as we saw once again in the WHL, he can be so challenging to beat. Cossa had a 17-1-1 record with a 1.57 GAA and .941 SV and was generally unstoppable for the Oil Kings. It’s too bad the WHL didn’t get a proper playoffs because Cossa was ready for the challenge.
There aren’t a ton of downsides to his game – he’s aggressive on his angles, but can easily get back into position with his quick feet. He sees around the net well and has a nice recovery for rebounds. He spends time training with pro goaltenders such as Carter Hart, and while they are fundamentally different goaltenders, being enshrined in the NHL culture with other top young netminders is definitely a bonus.
It’s been well-documented that Cossa had to overcome adversity to get to this point in his career. Cossa was 13 years old when the Fort McMurray fires displaced his family for three months. But it didn’t stop him in his training process, and the hard work is ready to pay off.
“This guy works his behind off in a way very few goaltenders have,” a Western scout said. “And then when he hits the ice, he’s efficient in his movements and rarely gives up a bad goal. It’s hard not to cheer for him.”
Nedeljkovic looks like the No. 1 for a few years, with Cossa likely staying in Edmonton for the next two years. He’ll challenge for Canada’s starting spot at the World Junior Championship over the next two years and many scouts believed he should have been there as an underaged guy this past winter, too. Detroit doesn’t need to rush him by any means, and by the time he’s ready, the rest of the Red Wings’ young core should be too.
How are you feeling, Red Wings fans? It better be excited, because Cossa is a tremendous pick.
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