The Buffalo Sabres selected forward Dylan Cozens and defenseman Ryan Johnson in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday.
Taken with the No. 7 overall pick, Cozens (age 18, 6’3”, 183 pounds) finished tied for 10th in WHL scoring with 84 points (34 goals, 50 assists) in 68 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2018-19. In his second full WHL season, Cozens finished among the league’s leaders in even-strength assists (10th, 34) and even-strength points (T-8th, 59) before adding eight points (4/4) in seven playoff contests.
As a rookie in 2017-18, Cozens won the Jim Piggott Trophy as the WHL’s Rookie of the Year after he led all first-year skaters in goals (22) and finished second among rookies with 53 points. The forward has recorded 138 points (57/81) and a plus-26 rating in 128 career WHL games, adding 29 points (14/15) in 35 playoff games.
A native of Whitehorse, Yukon, Cozens represented his country twice during the 2018-19 season. He was a member of the Canadian team that captured the gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and later served as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World U18 Championship, where he finished the tournament tied for seventh in scoring with nine points (4/5) in seven games.
The first player born in the Yukon to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft, Cozens also suited up for Team Canada Red at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and won a silver medal after tying for fifth in tournament scoring with seven points (1/6) in six games.
With the team’s second pick of the night, Buffalo selected Johnson (age 17, 6’0”, 170 pounds) at No. 31 overall. In 54 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) in 2018-19, he recorded 25 points (6/19) and a plus-24 rating, both of which were good for second among rookie defensemen.
Johnson followed his regular-season performance with eight points (2/6) in 12 playoff games to help lead the Stampede to a Clark Cup victory as the USHL’s champions. The defenseman was named to the USHL All-Rookie First Team following the 2018-19 campaign.
The Irvine, California native made his first international appearance last season, serving as a member of the United States team that won the 2018 World Jr. A Challenge in December.
•Saturday update: The Buffalo Sabres selected four players on the second day of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Sabres began the day by selecting goaltender Erik Portillo (age 18, 6’6”, 209 pounds) in the third round (67th overall). Portillo spent the 2018-19 season with Frölunda in Sweden’s SuperElit (U20) league, where he led all goaltenders in both save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (1.99) while also tying for the league lead with 21 wins in 26 appearances. He added a 2-1 record in the 2019 SuperElit postseason, logging a .933 save percentage in those three games.
A native of Gothenburg, Sweden, Portillo has spent the past four seasons playing junior hockey for Frölunda at the under-16, under-18 and under-20 levels. He was selected fifth overall by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the 2019 USHL Entry Draft and is committed to the University of Michigan.
In the fourth round, the Sabres traded one of the team’s three sixth-round picks to move up from 122nd to 102nd overall to select forward Aaron Huglen (age 18, 5’11, 166 pounds). The Roseau, Minnesota, native split the 2018-19 season between the USHL and high school hockey.
He recorded 14 points (4/10) in 28 USHL games with the Fargo Force and posted 54 points (17/37) in 26 games as team captain in his senior season at Roseau High School, earning a nomination as a 2019 Minnesota Mr. Hockey finalist. The forward rounded out the season by representing the U.S. at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he scored two goals in five games.
The Sabres traded up once again in the fifth round, sending one of the their remaining sixth-round picks and the team’s seventh-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for the 143rd overall pick. With the 143rd pick, the team selected forward Filip Cederqvist.
A native of Skara, Sweden, Cederqvist (age 18, 6’1”, 187 pounds) made his SHL debut with the Växjö Lakers last season, recording eight points (4/4) in 33 regular-season games in Sweden’s top professional league. He added one goal in six playoff contests as rookie. In his second season as part of the Växjö organization, Cederqvist also played in 26 SuperElit games, totaling 32 points (14/18) in his third partial season at the under-20 level.
With their final remaining pick, the Sabres selected Czech forward Lukas Rousek (age 20, 5’11, 165 pounds). Rousek totaled 11 points (4/7) in 60 games during the last two seasons for Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga, the Czech Republic’s top professional league. In 2018-19, he also appeared in 16 games in the Czech second division, recording 15 points (7/8) in 16 games for Stadion Litomerice.