The Buffalo Sabres could see Dylan Cozens take yet another step forward in 2023-24. And this year, he has a unique opportunity.
Dylan Cozens enjoyed his breakout season in 2022-23, and his efforts warranted him a contract extension halfway through the year. It’s safe to say Cozens will be a pivotal part of the Blue and Gold in moving forward, but he will also be faced with a unique opportunity, given the injury to Jack Quinn that will keep the latter out at least until January.
Cozens will center the second line, and it’s inevitable that JJ Peterka will line up alongside him, but following the first preseason game, it’s clear that no one has the edge on snagging the job. Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen (a pair of prospects who gained traction recently) did some good things, but they, like the others in this contest, were mostly just another pair of forwards in this outing.
And no, before I go any further, I’m not stressing out about this after one measly preseason game. But what I’m getting to is this: Dylan Cozens will ultimately decide who wins the job at winger, or at least in a manner of speaking.
Buffalo Sabres center will build more than enough chemistry with ???
Head coach Don Granato and his staff will put the Sabres in the best position to succeed without Quinn for the first half of the year. And the job at winger on the second line will be decided when Granato gets a sound idea of who Cozens works well with. Sure, Peterka will need to build chemistry with them too, but ultimately, Cozens is the playmaker here.
Therefore, if Cozens ends up working well with, say, Lukas Rousek and Victor Olofsson (just to throw a couple of random names out there – one prospect, one non), then they will be the undisputed front-runners. Suppose Olofsson works better with Cozens than Rousek, then he is the one you will see snag the job here.
With the duo of Dylan Cozens and Victor Olofsson (or the eventual winner) linking up, the chemistry spills over into January, allowing the Peterka-Cozens-Olofsson (or Player X) trio develop such sound chemistry that their line is nearly as effective as the Tage Thompson line.
When Quinn returns, the line now has the ability to rotate (if desired), and really gain an edge over opponents as the year reaches its twilight. Cozens’ leadership will ultimately be the catalyst here, and it will result in that breakout season for Peterka, plus a solid year for Quinn (when he returns) and Player X.