Cozens showed improvement during the 21-22 season, but still has room to grow.
Our Buffalo Sabres 2022 player report cards continue on with a look at second-year center, Dylan Cozens.
Total Season Stats: 79 GP, 13 G, 25 A, 38 PTS
Contract Status: Signed through 2023-24 (UFA in 2024), $832,500/yr
Dylan Cozens is a player the Sabres organization hopes they’ll be able to build around, as he has the physical and mental tools it takes to be a star in the NHL.
Although only in his second year, Cozens has shown important leadership intangibles, especially this past season. Unfortunately, however, all the hard work and determination he’s shown up to this point has been tough to turn into points on the scoresheet.
Through 120 career games, Cozens only has 17 goals (three on the powerplay), and despite playing almost a full sophomore season, was only able to put up 38 total points in 21-22.
Now you might say, “38 points can’t be bad for a player only in his second year, right?” And while I may not disagree with you, I feel that we can all say it was noticeable at times just how often Cozens struggled to put the puck in the net.
Cozens would often go through long stretches last season without a goal, and only scored twice in the back half of the season from the beginning of February through the end of April. While he was able to show success in the passing game as he registered 25 assists during the campaign, a player with the size and skill that Cozens has needs to score far more often, especially on the powerplay.
If Cozens is able to break out of his frequent scoring slumps he’s experienced the last two seasons, he’s value to the Sabres will exponentially increase. He’s already shown heart and grit on many occasions, never afraid to battle in the corner or stick up for a teammate.
One of my favorite memories this past season was Buffalo’s Heritage Classic win over the Maple Leafs, a game Cozens played an important part in. Although only registering an assist, Cozens battled hard all game, and even laid a punishing hit on Auston Matthews who previously crosschecked Rasmus Dahlin in the back of the neck.
After scraping with a few Leaf players and being removed from the game, instead of walking to the locker room, Cozens stayed and watched the last few minutes of the game from behind the glass, a gesture that resonated well with his teammates and fans.
While Cozens is only 21 years old and still has a lot of time to grow, I was honestly expecting a little more out of him statistically this past season, particularly in the goal scoring area of his game. On the other hand though, his leadership qualities and play-for-the-team mindset have been very beneficial for the organization, and have developed sooner than I though.
Cozens has a major opportunity next season to be a key player on the Sabres, as expectations will be high for him. If he can bring that same energy and ferocity he did during the 21-22 season, while also generating more goals, Buffalo will be a much better team.
Season Grade: C
What grade would you give Dylan Cozens?
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