Well well well...look at what time of the year we are at!
The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is primed and ready to get going in a virtual setting for the second consecutive year. The festivities get going on July 21 and the Edmonton Oilers will be selecting 19th overall. This is the second-lowest selection the Oilers have had in the first round in a literal decade so it is a bit of an unusual spot for them to be in.
The options around this pick are not as well-defined as previous drafts and, at this point, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus pick that we KNOW will be available at #19. However, if we were to listen to the media (and our very own Shona Hickmore) it looks like Oil Kings goaltender Sebastian Cossa is one of the guys that will be high on Ken Holland’s radar if he makes it there.
Picking a goaltender in the first round is always a risk. The position is one of the most random in sports and can be very hard to assess at a young age. We usually see one goaltender taken in the first round, but 2021 is looking a bit different. Jesper Wallstedt is expected to go within the first 15 picks and Cossa is also projected to be a first-rounder.
If this happens it will be the first time two goaltenders were taken in the first round since 2010, when Jack Campbell went 11th to Dallas followed by Mark Visentin being taken at Arizona at 27. Also, another fun fact, the last goaltender to go 19th overall was Andrei Vasilevskiy.
So, with all that filler out of the way, let’s get to actually talking about Sebastian Cossa.
Who is Sebastian Cossa?
Cossa is an absolute beast of a goaltender. Standing high at 6 foot 6 and 210lbs, the Fort MacMurray native spent the last two seasons playing with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. He has an overall record of 38-7-4 over 52 games played during that team while carrying a 0.931sv%.
Those are some insane numbers for a teenage goaltender in one of the best developmental leagues in North America. Something you have to take into consideration when reading those, however, is the quality of the team in front of him as well as the impact that COVID-19 has had on his time with the Oil Kings.
Edmonton only played 24 games this past season exclusively against divisional opponents and they were absolutely busted. The Oil Kings steamrolled the competition last year and would most likely have been the WHL’s representative if the Memorial Cup tournament was held. The same can also be said about the 2019/20 Oil Kings as they placed third in the league.
So, Cossa has been a player on a really good team. That isn’t to say he wasn’t one of the big reasons that his team was good but it definitely made life a little bit easier for him. In terms of his individual play, he is described as a big body who utilizes his big frame spectacularly. He can cut off a shooter's angle with ease and his mobility is actually pretty impressive considering his size.
That is the face-value analysis, so let’s take a closer look at what some of the experts are saying about Cossa.
Steve Kournianos (The Draft Analyst): “Like most bigger netminders, Cossa limits his positioning to inside the crease and will not extend outside of it to challenge shooters. If one would compare him to recent top-rated goalie prospects, Cossa is neither as jittery as Yaroslav Askarov nor is he as robotic as Spencer Knight. Rather, Cossa combines fluid crease shuffles with compact movements and limits the amount of time he spends on his back or his pads. He’s not much of a risk-taker and if Cossa gets beat, it’s rarely from his own egregious mistake or over-committal to one side. Cossa also doesn’t venture too far from the crease when facing a breakaway.”
Nick Richard (dobberprospects): “Standing at 6-6 and weighing 212 pounds, the Alberta native possesses the combination of size and athletic ability that NHL teams covet in the goaltending position. He has good fundamentals and uses his big body to square up to shooters, cutting down angles while being agile enough to get across his crease quickly.”
Sam Consentino (Sportsnet): “Issuing hall passes to any team that takes a goalie in the first round this year, and this year only. Aside from that Cossa, a mass of humanity at 6-foot-6 and 212 pounds, is athletic, technically sound, and confident in his abilities.”
Ben Kerr (Last Word on Sports): “Cossa has everything needed to be a top goaltender at the next level but will need some time. Expect to see him back with the Oil Kings next season. He should also challenge for the starting spot on Team Canada at the World Juniors.”
Does He Make Sense At #19?
Draft analysts have Cossa anywhere as high as 14 and as low as 23, so it is a good bet that he’ll be on the board when the Oilers are at the podium. Add to the fact that some teams might be hesitant to take a goaltender, I think it is a near certainty he will be there.
Here is a look at some of those rankings:
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 14
Craig Button (TSN): 19
Sam Consentino (Sportsnet): 23
Tony Ferrari (Dobberprospects): 22
I would be very surprised if he wasn’t available at #19 and I think he would make plenty of sense at this position.
Potential Fit with Oilers:
The Oilers have a little bit of a pipeline going between the pipes. We got our first glimpse of Stuart Skinner in the NHL after he made his debut in an 8-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. He didn’t look too great, but that could be chalked up to first-game jitters. He had a fantastic year with Bakersfield.
We then have Ilya Konovalov coming over to North America next season. He has spent the last four seasons playing for Yaroslav in the KHL and has put up some pretty good numbers. He could be a player a lot of people are sleeping on right now.
They also have Oliver Rodrigue fighting his way through the ranks. Cossa would be a fine addition to this group of netminders but he’ll have to leap a few guys if he has his eyes set on a starter position in the NHL.
I think he has all the tools to do just that, but the jury is still out. He’d be entering a crowded prospect pool and will have to prove himself. It’ll take a few years for him to be NHL-ready and, if he polishes up a few technical issues, he could very well be a future starter for the Edmonton Oilers.