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Photo Credit: Andy Devlin/WHL

2021 Flames First Round Targets: Sebastian Cossa

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will take place on July 23. Following the results of the draft lottery, the Flames hold the 12th overall selection and will have a chance to add a high-end prospect to their organization.

The top goaltender in the 2021 class is Swedish goaltender Jesper Wallstedt. Good news for everyone who’s having Leland Irving flashbacks – Wallstedt will probably be off the board when the Flames pick. But let’s take a look at a very good goalie who will probably be available at 12th overall: Edmonton Oil Kings standout Sebastian Cossa.

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Scouting report

Cossa is one of the older first-time eligible netminders in this draft, as he’s a November 2002 birthday. He’s 6’6″ and 210 pounds. He was born in Hamilton, but was raised in the Fort McMurray area and worked his way up through Alberta’s minor hockey community.

After time spent in the AMHL, Cossa leapt right into the WHL in 2019-20 as the Oil Kings’ starter and had a strong performance that immediately put him on the NHL Draft radar for 2021. He was borderline dominant in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, albeit playing only against the other Central Division teams: Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer.

Over at Smaht Scouting, Josh Tessler provided this analysis of Cossa’s physical traits:

But, the speed and quickness that Cossa embodies is what truly wows me about his athleticism. He is quite speedy when going from left to right when facing a two on two with one attacker coming down the right side (attacker’s right side) and a second attacker who found open ice at net front. Cossa deploys quality edge work to help push him from side to side. In addition, his reaction time is quite fast when closing up the five hole and when jumping back up to standing stance from the butterfly.

Over at FC Hockey (get their guide here!), scout Justin Froese broke down Cossa’s strengths following a win over the Calgary Hitmen:

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[Cossa] is a huge kid who plays on his angles and adjusts consistently to eliminate gaps in coverage and always takes the high percentage shots away. Has quick feet and is quick in and out of his butterfly, taking up a massive span and moving laterally with great control of lower and upper body.He’s like flypaper to pucks as seldom does he give up bad pucks or lose sight of rebounds and his glove hand is a strength with consistent positioning with the quickness to adjust and reposition. Does an excellent job of positioning stick, block and pads to court pucks and find dead ice to move rebounds too, seldom putting a dime back in front of his crease and ideal areas for his defense to pick up the loose change. Cossa’s tremendously powerful lower body is on display when he anchors to the post and moves laterally. Shows excellent post play and eliminates short side jam plays and can quickly readjust with pucks out front. In this game he was beat on a couple of 5 hole shots where he was plainly beaten in transition and did look a bit awkward on one where he uncharacteristically slid deep in his crease with the net being driven. Love his ceiling and think he’s a good bet to not only play but be the blue chip goaltending prospect who can stabilize the position for a franchise. Should be a guy who is in the running for Canada’s next starter at the World Juniors and if given the time needed, could outplay his draft position.

Cossa’s size and dominance at lower levels might give Flames fans Jon Gillies flashbacks, but his playing style doesn’t rely on his big-ness, but rather smart positioning and athleticism.

The numbers

Cossa’s only played 52 WHL games at this point – for comparison’s sake, Dustin Wolf had played 81 before he was drafted – but Cossa has played quite well in the games he’s managed to play.

In 2019-20, he went 21-6-3 with a 2.23 goals against average and .921 save percentage. He was fourth league-wide in GAA, tied for third in SV%, tied for fourth in shutouts and tied for eighth in wins.

In 2020-21, he went 17-1-1 with a 1.57 goals against average and .941 save percentage. He was first in GAA, first in SV%, second in wins and first for shutouts. He was narrowly beaten out by Wolf for the WHL’s award for the circuit’s top goaltender. Simply put: Cossa is big, talented, and stacks up well with the league’s best ‘tenders.

Availability and fit

The Flames have two goaltenders in their system younger than 23: Wolf (who’s 20) and Russian goalkeeper Daniil Chechelev (who is also 20). Adding Cossa would give them another promising youngster and make the race to succeed Jacob Markstrom more of an actual competition and less of a coronation for Wolf in a few seasons.

The Flames also will have a ton of familiarity with Cossa, given they own the Hitmen and see the Oil Kings oodles during the season. They also heavily scout the WHL, so there may be a level of comfort with Cossa that they wouldn’t have with other goaltenders.

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Here’s how Cossa falls on most prominent draft rankings:

McKeen’s Hockey — 19th
Future Considerations — 15th
The Athletic (Corey Pronman) — 10th
Dobber Prospects — 24th
TSN (Bob McKenzie) — 14th
Draft Prospects Hockey — 24th
NHL Central Scouting (North American Goalies) — 1st
Recruit Scouting — 21st
EliteProspects.com — 22nd
Smaht Scouting — 24th

Cossa will likely be available at 12th overall. He’s a damn fine junior goaltender and projects well given his size, skill, and talent. But if you’re thinking that the Flames need to prioritize adding goal-scoring and offensive talent early in the draft, that may trump Cossa’s impressive resume.

2021 First Round Targets

Matthew Coronato | Aatu Räty | Mason McTavish | Kent Johnson | Chaz Lucius | Dylan Guenther | Jesper Wallstedt | Corson Ceulemans | Fabian Lysell | Fyodor Svechkov | Oskar Olausson | Logan Stankoven | Simon Robertsson | Cole Sillinger | Simon Edvinsson | William Eklund | Nikita Chibrikov | Brandt Clarke | Francesco Pinelli

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