Detroit Red Wings fans have a monster in Sebastian Cossa

The Grand Rapids Griffins season came to a close this weekend, but the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate to the Detroit Red Wings still brings light to fans. Here’s why.
Canada v Swizerland: Quarterfinals - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada v Swizerland: Quarterfinals - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship / Andy Devlin/GettyImages

A season with such highs ended on a bittersweet note Sunday night. Aside from Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender, Sebastian Cossa, players seemed to have exhausted their resources in Friday’s matchup. 

Seemingly, an endless parade to the penalty box both nights depleted energy reserves, potentially led to injuries, and ate precious time from the unrelenting clock.

While referees were not my favorite part of the Grand Rapids Griffins season, the boys had plenty of time to adjust their game plan as both a coaching staff and players. It just never happened.

It’s a great lesson for the young players. Whether the penalized player was a young player or veteran, they took often lazy, emotional, and avoidable penalties. The coaching staff had difficulties reeling players in and I would be lying if I said it didn’t disappointment me.

Aside from the lack of disciplined, questionable lineup choices, and misguided loyalty, I have no qualms with the coaching staff. 

As we continue to reflect on the Grand Rapids Griffins 2023-24 season, here’s why Detroit Red Wings fans can lick their chops (Sebastian Cossa enter stage right).

Last season, while Cossa proved himself in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey League (ECHL)--a tier below the AHL, I have to admit I was concerned with his development. 

There were moments brilliance, but I kept cheating on poor Cossa. I’m guilty of envying the Minnesota Wild and their goaltending prospect, Jesper Wallstedt. 

Wallstedt seemed far ahead in his development plan. He even made his National Hockey League (NHL) debut this season. Wallstedt is predictable, reliable, and structured, which are the foundation of many successful goaltenders. It’s tantalizing. Plus, I’m a sucker for a Swedish prospect.

When Cossa was drafted, we were told he’s the project. 

Where Cossa falls behind in technique, he makes up for it with burning flames inside. Cossa’s a wildfire that’s impossible to distinguish. This aspect of his game is his best and worse qualities. Highs are incredible, some of the most fantastical saves or games. Lows, well, they leave a person questioning what in the world happened. 

His confidence and mental fortitude has grown leaps and bounds. Cossa has let in “soft” goals or had a “bad” game, but none were that outlandish this season. (This perspective of “not so bad” comes from the recent Detroit Red Wings seasons where giving up touchdowns wasn’t uncommon so take my perspective with a grain of salt.)

Even with an oopsies daisies game, the game following his hiccup was anything but. He rebounded like a tenured veteran who knew that he had nothing to worry about and he didn’t. 

It’s a scary thought, a Cossa who is emotionally stable in the majority of his play.

Then, there’s his size, which can’t be taught (a gangly 6’6). He's still learning his body and maybe spending some time with Simon Edvinsson might help. In particular the mixed martial arts (MMA) and his mom, Åsa who is a personal trainer,  have helped Edvinsson with learning to control his body movements.

Scott Wheeler, a writer for The Athletic/New York Times wrote about Edvinsson in his leadup to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft:

"MMA builds my core and smooths my motions. It builds strength right up to the neck and helps me keep an aggressive mentality on the ice. I try to use my length with my body to get smooth and still have good mobility. I’ve worked a lot with the trainers in Frölunda [his team in Sweden] on that, but also with my mother and in MMA classes."

Simon Edvinsson

Cossa is lightyears ahead of where he was when he was drafted, but is still developing his body control. I’m confident he will figure himself out, though, which is something that I couldn’t say for certain in seasons past either.

HIs five-hole isn’t open like a 7-Eleven anymore and his glove is getting there.

These learning curves and development along the way are helping Cossa become even more impressive. As they say, the hottest fires make the strongest steel. Going forward, I can’t wait to see how much powerful Cossa becomes.

Next season, I suspect Cossa will have the starter’s net in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which should help his game take flight even further. Knowing he’s the starter should allow him to settle into his game earlier on in the season and increase his confidence that much more.

My favorite thing about Cossa isn’t any of the above. It’s the fact that he’s dedicated to his teammates. In a recent post game interview, Cossa referred to his teammates as his brothers. Hearing a goalie say that is a bit different, as normally they’re off doing their own thing.

Not our Cossa. He’s as integral to the overall team as any skater. It makes his team that much more formidable than any team backed by a prototypical goaler.

With his play in 2023-24, Cossa has taken me from hesitantly optimistic to incredibly excited to see him play for the Detroit Red Wings (someday relatively soon).

Reflecting on the Grand Rapids Griffins year. dark. Next. May 28