Buffalo Sabres: Dylan Cozens teases bright future with sublime first goal

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Dylan Cozens gave Buffalo Sabres fans a tantalizing glimpse of what could be to come on Friday.

Although it hasn’t been a great start to the 2020-21 NHL Season for the Buffalo Sabres, who are 1-3-1 to start the year, they perhaps have unearthed their next future franchise center with Dylan Cozens delivering fans a strong and hugely-impressive first impression.

In the Sabres’ 4-3 Shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday – their third loss of the season to the Caps – the one bright spot was Cozens recording his first career goal in the National Hockey League and, boy, was it one hell of a beauty.

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It was so special and so incredible to watch that Sabres Head Coach Ralph Krueger described the moment as “historic.” That may seem like hyperbole and coach speech, but Cozen’s first goal for Buffalo was truly breathtaking and it provided a glimpse of what could be to come for the young center who is quickly establishing himself on this roster.

After the Sabres cleared the puck out of their own zone, Cozens had the awareness to notice that Brian Pinho was struggling to handle the puck and overplayed it, at which point Cozens displayed good hockey smarts to anticipate the mistake before swatting the puck away from Pinho and clearing nothing but open ice between him and the Capitals goal.

Using another Washington defenseman as a decoy, Cozens slowed himself right down before setting himself on his forehand and unleashing a wicked snipe over the shoulder of Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek for his first-ever goal in the National Hockey League. It was one hell of a deadly wrister from Dylan Cozens and it showcased just how lethal his shot can be on the biggest stage.

Dylan Cozens is proving that he’s something special for the Buffalo Sabres

It was truly a special goal and it was everything that went into the play that makes it such a memorable one. For instance, Cozens never gave up on the play, he showed tenacity to go in and snatch the puck away, he kept his feet moving and he just makes things happen when he has the puck on his stick and when he doesn’t.

And that shot and that release is something special, and that kind of weapon will ensure that Dylan Cozens not only succeeds in the NHL, but truly flourishes and morphs into a franchise cornerstone for the Buffalo Sabres, as he is currently projected to become.

It was a true highlight-reel goal and it is testament to just how special a player Cozens is, and he could be central to helping turn the 2020-21 season around for the Buffalo Sabres, who sure as hell need a spark or two right now in order to keep pace in what is a truly stacked and loaded East Division.

Dylan Cozens (24)
Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Cozens boasts a high upside and has always been thought of highly by the Buffalo front office, but he really elevated himself on the depth chart thanks to his breakout performance at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Edmonton. The center was arguably the best player for Team Canada and he finished second in points in the entire tournament with 16 points (8 G, 8 A) in seven games and played a starring role as his country won the Silver Medal.

Cozens really put the NHL world on alert with his scintillating performances in Edmonton and, as such, he has started the 2020-21 season on the Sabres roster and has two points (1 G, 1 A) in five games with a +1 rating while averaging 12:52 of TOI. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds and still only 19-years-old, Cozens is only going to grow and further develop and also add more muscle to his frame, while he looks to be the future No. 2 center for Buffalo behind franchise cornerstone Jack Eichel once Eric Staal hangs up the skates.

Also handed the chance to win the Shootout for the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Dylan Cozens is quickly earning the trust of Krueger and it is not hard to see why. He’s straight out of central casting when it comes to what you would want and expect from a modern-day center in the National Hockey League, and Cozens boasts both a high upside and an incredibly high ceiling.

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His eye-catching, jaw-dropping goal on Friday is just a sign of things to come and there is no doubt that the Buffalo Sabres can look forward to a bright future with two franchise centers in Eichel and Dylan Cozens, with the latter rapidly proving that he has the smarts, the intangibles, the skill set, the character and the talent needed to eventually become the next face of this franchise and hopefully lead them to a long-awaited return to the glory days.