Everything Else

The FFUD #3 Pick Preview rolls on with a guy who has the same name as an injured Phillies prospect, in a coincidence both weird and possibly accurate.

Physical Stats

Height: 6′ 3″; Weight: 183; Shot: Right

On-Ice Stats (2018-19)

League: WHL; Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes; Position: Center

34 G; 50 A; 84 P

Why the Hawks Should Take Him

Cozens can skate. That’s his number one quality, and on this Hawks team that ability shouldn’t be underestimated. We love Dylan Strome around these parts, but skating is definitely not his strong suit. And Toews won’t be getting any faster either. Cozens is most naturally a center, and if  you squint, you could see him as a 3C, ostensibly on an energy line with Kubalik or Sikura or any of the other bottom-six rabble. He can get control of the puck and move it through the neutral zone, and at 6’3″ he’s big enough to win puck battles down low, and then he can use his speed to get up the ice and make a zone entry. Which shouldn’t be that hard but you know what we’re dealing with here.

By all accounts, Cozens is a solid two-way player with a decent shot, and even though he’s tall he’s not a slobbering oaf (yet at least). His offensive capabilities have been noted since he was 16, when he scored eight points in 12 games, the second-most for a WHL player at that age behind Brayden Point. He finished this season tied for 10th in points, and his total of 84 was a 30-point jump from his previous season. So he’s got offensive potential.

Why the Hawks Shouldn’t Pick Him

Speed is important, don’t get me wrong, but unfortunately Cozens isn’t all that skilled. Yes his numbers are good, but we’re talking about his 16-year-old season? That’s discomforting in its Pierre McGuire-ness. I at least would want his current season to be enough that we don’t have to talk about him basically as a god damn Bantam. And at this point, he’s pretty much a bottom-six guy. Granted, Cozens would be a hell of a lot cheaper than Artem Anisimov, the costliest 4C there ever was, but is it really worth using the third pick on a third-liner? He may be a top-six player one day but that will depend on a lot of improvement.

I guess you could argue that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Hawks taking another forward, since the depth they have could either 1) end up being filled with shit, or 2) lead to a roulette wheel of forwards and we don’t know who will work well together yet so why not have a whole bunch of them. But if he can’t make it as a center on the depth chart, it’s tough to imagine Cozens on a line with Toews or Strome, since that would leave Top Cat and Garbage Dick to move to their off side (not happening) or Cozens himself would have to move (not proven that could work).

And, with all of that being the case it would be incredibly frustrating to see the third pick come to that, rather than Byram, when we all know damn well it’s the blue line we have to worry about. Seriously, talking about a potential NHL center when there’s a quality defenseman available is annoying in itself, so thanks for that, Hawks.


Dylan Cozens wouldn’t hurt the lineup, but he may not help it much either. He could be packaged as part of a deal, since there is no shortage of young forwards for the Hawks to be dealing, but it’s hard to see that as a worthwhile use of a #3 pick. Unless that deal can magically bring Dougie Hamilton, then fine. Even in a worst-case scenario he won’t really do any harm and could potentially be a decent center. So that’s…something? And maybe we’d have another guy to use the Dave Chappelle Dylan gif for.

Everything Else

We spend a lot of time here trying to figure out where the Hawks want to go and how quickly they want to get there. After a day of pondering in initial response to the Hawks getting the #3 pick, which I assumed  only upped the urgency and if they can’t take a player who can help next year they have to trade it, now I’m not so sure. That’s certainly A solution, but is it THE solution? We have spent two seasons now trying to figure out what the Hawks want to do, how they want to go about it, while navigating what we perceive are the forces and what actually are the forces influencing their decisions.

Maybe they don’t even know?

We can say there are two, opposing sides pulling at the Hawks. One is their ONE GOAL URGENCY, which means you have to get as good as you can as fast as you can, in service to your Four Horsemen Of The Cup-acalypse and a fanbase that really has only known winning aside from the “hardcore” who aren’t really going anywhere but do include the construction workers yelling at McDonough outside his office window. It’s that feeling that causes them to utter words like, “Unacceptable, urgency, accountability.” It makes them say them, it doesn’t make them necessarily live up to them.

On the other side, you have the pretty rational urge to try and build a team for the next wave. A team that can stand on its own with Toews and Keith only being contributors instead of pillars (it’s hard to see anytime soon where Kane won’t be the latter). That the Hawks have to find a way to give a team to DeBrincat and now Strome and Boqvist and whoever else ends up being here.

We have spent a lot of time saying that there are so few avenues to getting a #1 d-man or center. That whatever “rebuild” or “retool” they want to embark on is pointless until you can find a way to either or both of those. And the main way is having a top three pick. Well, look at that.

So what do the Hawks balance here? Maybe they look at it and think to themselves that Dylan Cozens or Alex Turcotte is the future #1 center that can take the torch from Toews in three years. And while that might not help you next year, it helps you for more years down the road. They may not get another chance to find that player. Certainly not an easier one.

While Boqvist, Mitchell, Jokiharju, and Beaudin all seem to have their problems, promise, ceilings, and floors, it’s pretty much agreed that if things progress as they should, Bowan Byram is a #1 d-man in the future. He has it all. And maybe Stan Bowman sees the most surefire heir to Keith’s reign. We know development curves for d-men are longer, and you have to live with some shit for a while, but again, that sets you up for longer. Again, this might be your best and/or only chance to get that player.

So how do you weigh that?

For the Hawks front office, things have gotten easier. Because Seabrook’s and Keith’s play this year, along with Keith’s attitude on the ice, means they have less influence. Or they should. You don’t have to “sell” to them, because if they throw a bitch about a continued rebuild, Seabrook should be bought out anyway and Keith doesn’t really have to be here.

So essentially, on the players side, you’re only selling this to Toews and Kane. Maybe they have enough pull between the two of them to say, “No, we’re not waiting around for another season, and certainly not another fucking two years.” And maybe that puts the brakes on any plans. Should it? I can’t really answer that. Is working in their interests best for the team in five years? 10?

Is there a push from outside the organization? Again, it’s hard to say that. The building is still full, even if they’re eating through their beloved waitlist. It’s hard to know how much longer that will last, and while there were some scatterings of open seats earlier in the year, there wasn’t anything resembling a mass exodus.

There isn’t a press baying for heads and blood. There aren’t column inches being devoted to changes the Hawks must make, riling up an already twitchy fanbase and poisoning the atmosphere in the arena. None of the columnists care. Do columnists even exist anymore? And the fanbase isn’t twitchy.

I’ve been of the opinion that the Hawks were either lying or incompetent. That their proclamations of being a playoff team were either being undercut by a front office actually trying to rebuild the roster on the fly using that as cover, or they really thought this was a playoff team and they have no idea how to build one. Maybe the answer is both? Or none? Maybe they’re trying to thread that needle of doing both? Maybe they don’t have any idea which they’re doing? Maybe they keep making half-measures toward one side or the other, which only leaves them stuck in the middle, moving toward neither?

Which makes this third pick fascinating. Because it’s something definitive either way. It also could be their chance to actually thread this needle and do both. For example: they could take Byram or Turcotte or Cozens, and then none of them would be here next year. A week after that, they could splash some cash for a free agent or two, package a couple of prospects for another, and improve the team for the now while really building it for the later. And this is what feels like is the most likely route.

There are a lot of ways that can go wrong, of course. You could spend on the wrong free agent or two. Make a bad trade, and leave your future depth in rubble. The kid you take at #3 just never makes the leap, or makes it at all and you look at them like the Coyotes looked at Strome, except deservedly.

What’s been so frustrating for some Hawks fans, clearly not all, is that there just didn’t seem to be any direction for the team. They said one thing, did another, and then said something else. But I haven’t Occam Razor’d this until yesterday. The most likely explanation is that they just don’t know.

Well now they have a key. They can do one, they can do the other, or they can attempt both. At least maybe they’ll pick one now. Maybe.