Here at Copper and Blue, our crack team of hockey analysts have spent at least five whole minutes consulting the current SB Nation Draft board, the prospect rankings (especially the thoughts of Mr. McKenzie), and our own generally completely unsupported best guesses before making our selection. With the 19th pick in the SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Copper and Blue is proud to select goaltender Sebastian Cossa of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
(I’m pretty sure that’s about as good a speech as most Oilers speakers manage on draft day, so put me in Katz…)
Background and General Information
Cossa is the WHL Central Division Champion Oil Kings starting goaltender. Yes, we are aware that doesn’t actually mean much in the COVID season, but it is a fun fact. Cossa, who turned 18 before the shortened season started has been the Oil Kings starter for the last two seasons, stepping into the role as an almost 17-year-old in 2019.
Cossa is a 6’6” goaltender who is well-aware of how much space he takes up in the crease and is comfortable doing so. He is a quick lateral mover, is able to position himself well to face shooters, and is able to handle the puck without giving himself more work. Cossa is able to track opposing players, think through the game, and move accordingly so he’s not scrambling.
Cossa has, over the last season, risen considerably in the draft rankings. In the final NHL rankings, Cossa is ranked first among North American Goaltenders, and 14th on Bob McKenzie’s integrated draft rankings. With the 19th overall pick, a top ranked goaltending prospect is not the worst choice for the Oilers to look to developing a team in the future.
Last season, Cossa saw 19 of 23 starts for his club and put up an impressive 17-1-1 record with 1.57 goals against average, a 0.941 save percentage and four shutouts. The interesting thing about Cossa is that his numbers from the previous season (2.23 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage) show a steady but not unsustainable improvement. In short, Cossa did not just have an amazing draft year, but seems to be developing as a goaltender in a steady manner.
Thanks Detroit for the video... but while I’ve got you, can I ask about Ken Holland? Because I’m more than a little concerned...
Why We Selected Cossa At 19
Cossa is an interesting goaltender to watch play hockey. Based on size alone, he has a significant advantage in taking up space in the net and he understands how to use his size to his advantage. His positioning is solid. He has the ability to move quickly across the crease, he’s smart enough not to go wandering from his crease during play, and he has displayed a good deal of mental resilience in dealing with a bad goal or a bad game.
For those of you who listen to the Copper and Blue podcast, you’ll know this is an important consideration from my perspective because in watching goaltenders I’ve noticed the actual techniques change very little but where the player is mentally can be an insurmountable challenge. If Cossa is as self-possessed as his starts in the WHL suggest, it seems likely he will have the composure to manage the ups and downs of being an NHL goaltender.
And as Bob Stauffer has been reminding Oilers fans for the majority of the Oilers season, Cossa is has spent the last two seasons just down the hall from the Oilers organization with the Edmonton Oil Kings. While there are several very valid arguments around favoritism to the Edmonton WHL club, this essentially means the Oilers staff should be very familiar with Cossa and what he can do.
Yes, We Know There Could Be Issues
The Oilers have a fairly solid pool of goalie prospects with Skinner and Rodrique in Bakersfield. The Oilers also still have both Koskinen and Stalock under contract at the NHL level. It would seem that the Oilers are well positioned around potential goaltenders, especially since the above list doesn’t even consider those who were drafted but aren’t playing in the Oilers system yet. A goalie seems like an illogical choice. Except that the Oilers just traded one of their goalie prospects to Carolina for future considerations, and it seems likely that there could be more minor league and prospect moves in the Oilers future.
The Oilers have also traditionally been very poor at developing both goaltenders and former Oil Kings… which is regrettable but doesn’t take away from the talent which has been obvious in Cossa. The Oilers inability to develop a goalie in their own system should be a wake up call to management and not a reason to spend ridiculous money in free agency instead of fixing internal issues. No one likes being bad at something so the Oilers should work on being less awful at developing prospects, especially goalies.
As for Cossa’s status as an Oil King, let’s assume that a team which has been competitive since it removed it’s own coaching and management inadequacies, wouldn’t have kept him as a starting goaltender if he didn’t have potential. They certainly played an interesting game of musical creases in the 2019-2020 season. It’s not worth ignoring talent because Oilers management have gambled on the same team before. In all fairness, no one would be saying this about the Sarina Sting… and that could be considered an even larger organizational failure.
Finally, yes we’re aware that picking goalies in the first round is risky as the position seems to have special sort of inscrutability to it but we’re also not going to ignore possible the best player on board just because goalies are hard to judge. In general, it’s that sort of thinking that has the Oilers overpaying in free agency for talents at the end of their career because they have a “proven track record” or some similar nonsense. So take a chance, stop expecting that a mid-first round pick will yield an immediate superstar, and hope that you get Cole Caulfield and not Philip Broberg this year.