Sabres' Cozens can't wait to play in a game

The No. 1 pick is ahead of schedule and will play in the Prospects Challenge

Paul Hamilton
September 06, 2019 - 1:34 pm

Photo courtesy of @BuffaloSabres

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Dylan Cozens was cleared Thursday and will play in the Prospects Challenge. The Sabres' 2019 No. 1 pick hurt has thumb during development camp and needed surgery.

It was first thought he would miss some training camp, but he is ready early. Cozens had a full practice before he was cleared for games and just enjoyed it, “It was good to be back out there with the team and being in a full contact practice.

“It’s great just being out there and being treated like a normal player and I feel good.”

About 10 days ago, Cozens told me he was doing well, but still needed to build the strength back up. He said mission accomplished, “I didn’t use it for a while so the biggest focus was just restrengthening it and being able to do all the normal day things again.”

Training camp is just a few days after the Prospects Challenge ends. Cozens doesn’t want to look too far ahead, “I haven’t been thinking about it too much, I’ve been focused on getting back to 100% and the Prospects Challenge this weekend, but I’m just going to go in there with confidence and just stick to my game, don’t go out there trying too hard to impress, just stick to what I do.”

Cozens was the seventh overall pick in June, while Jack Hughes went No. 1 to New Jersey. Cozens said he can’t wait to play against Hughes, “It will be fun to go out against him. I’ve become good buddies with him over this last year and there’s lots of hype around him, he’s a great player, so it’ll be fun to see how I match up against him.”

Cozens said it’ll be good, but that’s not what motivates him, “I’m not focusing on other guys, I’m focusing on myself and I want to go out there and play like I play because I feel good and not go out and play because I want to play against Jack Hughes, I want to go out and play because I love the game of hockey and I want to get back on the ice.”

Cozens has been in Buffalo during development camp and for his rehab. He said it’s been nice getting to know players in the Sabres organization, “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of them and go out and it’s been really good, so it’s exciting to meet all those guys and feel like part of the team.”

A couple of days ago, I talked about how Sam Reinhart was at the draft in Vancouver to help Cozens navigate things after he was picked. The first round pick was really happy Reinhart was there, “It definitely meant a lot, like right after being drafted going down and meeting one of the star players on my team and someone who knows the WHL and has been through the same thing, it was cool to see that and I appreciated it.”

The four teams at this weekend’s challenge have not been together long, so trying to play a system will be difficult. Chris Taylor and his staff will be coaching the Sabres and Cozens said, “He said just play the game with speed and systematically are the biggest things.

“We’ve had one practice together so you don’t teach too much, but just go out there and work as hard as you can and compete, that’s the biggest thing they emphasized.

Join me, Brian Koziol and Brayton Wilson for all the play-by-play action starting at 7:00 on WGR Sports Radio 550.

 

Friday’s lines from the morning skate:

Olofsson - Asplund - Oglevie

Pekar - Cozens - Rousek

Aquin - Ruotsalainen - Olson

Vidmar - MacIntyre - Murray

Baudry - Wiitala - Harper

 

Bryson - Jokiharju

Hickey - Borgen

Gosselin - Fitzgerald

Stephens - Bisson

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