North

Whitehorse hockey player manages expectations ahead of NHL draft

Seventeen year old Dylan Cozens is routinely mentioned as a probable top-five draft pick.

Seventeen year old Dylan Cozens is routinely mentioned as a probable top-five draft pick

Dylan Cozens, third from left, on the ice for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a game on Oct. 20, 2018. (Tyler Barrett/Lethbridge Hurricanes)

Late last month, Yukoner Dylan Cozens travelled to Red Deer, Alta. to play in an evening game that brought together the top 40 NHL draft entry players from across Canada. 

At 8:00 the next morning he had to report to a learning centre in the Alberta community for a mandatory English exam required for his high school graduation.

"It was tough obviously," said Cozens. "Not being able to really study a couple days before, but you know I had to do it."

The 17-year-old is living in two worlds in the lead-up to June's NHL draft June 21 and 22 in Vancouver.

That of a Grade 12 student about to graduate from high school and another in which he's routinely mentioned in the national sports media as a probable top-five draft pick for the NHL. TSN commentator Craig Button recently named Cozens as the best skater in this year's draft.

"Going into the season I had some high expectations on me, and I put high expectations on myself," said Cozens.     

"But you can't worry about that too much, you've just got to focus on going out every night and playing your game and doing what you do best."

Cozens was chosen captain for one of the two teams in January's elite draft prospects game. (CHL)

He's living in Lethbridge, Alberta, playing for the Western Hockey League Hurricanes.

His focus now is on the remaining 18 games in the regular season and then the WHL playoffs.

The next big event after that will be the NHL scouting combine usually held a few weeks before the draft itself.

The players are available for interviews with team representatives and physical and medical testing.

Cozen's life has been an ongoing series of challenges since he realized as a youngster that he wanted to fulfil his dream of playing in the NHL.

"I think everyone that wants to play in the NHL knows how much work it takes and what it takes to play in the NHL," Cozens said.

"So they know that you can't really take too many days off."

He said that won't end as long as he's pursuing a hockey career.

"I don't really have any time to relax that much," he said.

"For the rest of my hockey career really, as long as I'm playing hockey I always have to be training and doing something." 

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