The Detroit Red Wings front office did their homework when it came to drafting Sebastian Cossa at #15 overall. Director of Amateur Scouting Kris Draper spoke specifically about how many different people they interviewed about Cossa–along with the kid himself.
A video TSN released with interviews of Cossa gives a glimpse of the confidence, and his general demeanor which reveals just what they saw. And it appears to be the perfect fit for what Detroit needs in net–a loose, competitive, confident kid who can weather one of the toughest gigs in the Motor City.
The two toughest jobs in Detroit involve the quarterback for the Lions and the goalie for the Red Wings. Think of those who patrolled the crease and it’s not hard to see which goalies were able to handle the unbelievable stress that came with being the Red Wings netminder.
Mike Vernon was absolutely roasted when the Red Wings lost to the Devils in 1995. He hung in, and though initially doubted when named the starter, skated away with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs two seasons later.
How about Dominik Hasek? Hasek jerseys were thrown on the ice after the Wings fell into an 0-2 hole against Vancouver in 2002. He’d reel off six straight wins. When his back was against the wall after surrendering an overtime goal to Peter Forsberg in game five of the Western Conference Finals, Hasek posted back-to-back shutouts against the defending champs. Every Wings fan knows he’d hoist the Cup just five games later.
Chris Osgood was dogged by the media and opposing fans in 1998 when he gave up a long goal in each of the first three rounds. He still won the Cup. A decade later, he’d changed his entire stance and relieved Hasek in net during game four of the quarterfinals. 14 wins later, he’s a Stanley Cup Champion.
If Detroit wins the Cup in 2009, Osgood is most likely skating with the Conn Smythe Trophy, too.
Confidence and swagger are needed in net. Cossa seems to have that and looking at the goalies who backstopped the team to a Cup, they all possessed it too–just in different forms.
From Cossa’s interview:
"Being that last guy in net there–it’s all on you. If you win, you lose, kinda like I said before–you’re either the hero or the villain. When you’re a hero, it feels pretty good I’d say. But ya know when it’s a villain, obviously you go back to work. Everything motivates me–it makes me just want to get better. If I’m winning or losing, it’s going to motivate me in a different way. So I think at the end of the day, I just want to be the best version of myself and that’s going to come with success–and failure sometimes."
I found it curious that when Draper spoke at first about Cossa, he emphasized just how much they talked to others about the young man and then the dialogue they had just with him. They did their digging Draper insisted, and the night after the first round, he said this regarding their choice to move up to grab him:
"The six foot six, the athleticism, the compete. Obviously statistically he had an incredible year playing in the Alberta bubble. You’re adding up all those things, watching his last year in Edmonton as well–it just made sense for us to move up."
Skills come into play for sure. But they’re looking at the human being as well when it comes to building the future in Detroit.
Red Wings Looking Beyond the Scoresheet
A common theme with the draft philosophy has been bringing in high hockey IQ, hard compete guys. Going back to what Draper said, they’re looking at analytics, stats, performance–all of the standard measures of what makes a good player.
But they also look for the player with the right makeup. Following the first round of the 2019 Draft, Yzerman called Moritz Seider both “bright” and “personable” when describing to a scrum of media that really don’t know much about him at all.
Though they’re obviously going to be prioritizing skill first, they’re taking a long view by taking guys they believe have good character, and also exude confidence both on and off the ice.
And if it all comes together, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.