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Blackhawks’ No. 11 pick in 2021 NHL Draft: Making the case for Sebastian Cossa

Another goaltender contending for a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, Cossa has sometimes been ranked higher than Wallstedt.

Edmonton Oil Kings v Calgary Hitmen
Sebastian Cossa of the Edmonton Oil Kings in action against the Calgary Hitmen during a WHL game
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

The Second City Hockey staff will be profiling players who could be available at the No. 11 spot in the 2021 NHL Draft, where the Blackhawks will make their first-round selection. The draft starts Friday, June 23.

Eh, screw conventional wisdom. Five of the six goaltenders who played in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2021 — traditionally the Conference Final but with Vegas being the lone team from the Western Conference in the third round, let’s not say the Canadiens won the West — were drafted in the first round. The only one who wasn’t a first-round pick was Robin Lehner, a mid-second rounder (46th overall). Drafting a goaltender high is in now, so long as that goaltender is good enough to earn that spot. Here’s why Sebastian Cossa has earned it.

The Basics

Position: Goaltender
Age: 18 (Nov. 21, 2002)
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 212 pounds
Catches: Left
Team: Edmonton (WHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 1 North American goalie
Elite Prospects: No. 22
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 19
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 10
Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 24
Craig Button (TSN): No. 19

Cossa, besides sounding like a name straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie (Sebby Cossa? Come on, that’s literally a name in “RocknRolla”) is the best goaltender from North America in this draft. At least, that’s how NHL Central Scouting sees him. He dominated the WHL, posting a .921 save percentage in 2019-20 before bettering it with a .941 save percentage in 2021. Cossa had just one loss and 17 wins in his 19 games with the Oil Kings, and while wins are not everything, they do not hurt.

Cossa’s size is reminiscent of newly-retired Pekka Rinne, as Cossa stands at 6-6, although he somehow weighs less than Wallstedt, who is three inches shorter. Cossa is slightly more athletic than Wallstedt while still understanding a good angle and can also use his stick well to break up a play. Don’t get it wrong: Cossa will not be pulling any Marc-Andre Fleury-esque saves, but given Cossa’s size and his ability to use it, he doesn’t need to be. Corey Pronman of The Athletic — who ranked Cossa one spot higher than Wallstedt — said Cossa exhibits “selective aggressiveness” with his positioning.

Cossa has shown quick recovery ability on rebounds and can hold off multiple-shot sequences when needed, which, with the Blackhawks’ current system, would be a very important skill. Cossa, like Corey Crawford before him, is also very good at covering up a rebound near him as well before they turn into scoring chances. He’s also far more creative than the majority of goaltenders around his age range and can adapt to make saves quickly when he can’t get the same low stance as smaller, more nimble goaltenders.

Cossa’s earned rave reviews from a lot of places, including sibling sites All About the Jersey and Canes Country. According to Scouching, Cossa also outperformed his expected goals against number, which is not something the Blackhawks have seen since Crawford and Lehner. Cossa can be a starting goaltender in the league. The question is how soon.

Organizational fit

I mean, we just did Wallstedt and Dave drafted him in the SB Nation Mock Draft. We at Second City Hockey clearly think the Blackhawks need a goaltender for the future, it’s a matter of whether the current Blackhawks administration agrees (they can be very dumb). They drafted Drew Commesso — now at Boston University, with a .915 save percentage in his Freshman season in the NCAA — early in the second round of the 2020 draft. They’ve also added Arvid Soderblom, 21, and also have three goaltenders at the NHL level around the age of 26, which is still younger than Crawford was when he took over the starter’s net in Chicago. Dominic Basse was drafted in the sixth round in 2019 but is a longer shot than Commesso. Still, looking at the fact that three of the four final teams in the NHL this year had pretty split nets in the regular season, having two goaltenders worth a starter’s role is not the worst thing in the world.