Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill added to his team’s crop of young talent at the NHL Draft on Friday by selecting Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes seventh overall and Ryan Johnson of the Sioux Falls Stampede with the 31st pick of the first round.
Cozens, a center, has been described by some as comparable to Winnipeg Jets pivot Mark Schiefele. Blessed with a 6’3″ 183-pound frame, the Yukon native boasts speed and an ability to play well in all ends of the ice.
According to EPrinkside.com, “(Cozens) plays a mature two-way game, is extremely competitive, and possesses subtly high-end hockey sense that allows him to impact the game… His skating is his best weapon. He can dart up and down the ice at lightning speed, and plays with that pace with the puck on his stick.”
Cozens, the fifth-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, has accumulated 137 points over the last two years with the Hurricanes. He also notched nine points in seven games at the under-18 World Junior Championships and had five points in five games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Johnson, meanwhile, is the son of former NHLer Craig Johnson. A smooth-skating defenseman from Irvine, Calif., the 6-foot 170-pound Johnson completed his first year of junior hockey for the Stampede with 25 points in 54 games (eight points in 12 playoff games) and was named to the USHL all-rookie team after helping his team win the Clark Cup.
Ranked as the 33rd-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Johnson, according to Chris Peters of ESPN, is “…one of the best skating defensemen in this entire class. He’s an exceptional defender who performed at his best in big games this season. But he is a pretty raw talent when it comes to ability to make plays in the offensive zone.”
Like his father before him, Johnson will play for the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota this fall.