Red Wings’ Cossa Having an Excellent Season in the ECHL

The Hockey Writers

As you may have heard by now, Sebastian Cossa is having quite the season. It’s his first year playing professional-level hockey and he’s given us a number of things to be excited about. After what felt like weeks of him bouncing back and forth between the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, he has found a home as well as a role to fill in Toledo.

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The Red Wings drafted Cossa 15th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft which came as a surprise to many. Using such a high draft pick on a goaltender is typically a bit of a gamble so the apprehension fans were feeling was understandable. The other first-round pick of the 2021 Draft was Simon Edvinsson, who recently made his NHL debut with the Red Wings. It was somewhat of an interesting choice to take a defenseman and a goaltender so high, but they both seem to be panning out nicely thus far.

Stepping Up and Showing Out

Last season, Cossa was in net for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The team as a whole was great and they ended up going on a solid playoff run. He had a 2.28 goals-against average (GAA) and a .913 save percentage (SV%) in the regular season after playing in 46 games. That was the first time in his career carrying that big of a role on his own and he proved that he was ready for a change of scenery.

Sebastian Cossa Detroit Red Wings
Sebastian Cossa, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Since this was his first season of professional hockey, it was hard to guess what things might look like for Cossa. The WHL is still a highly competitive hockey league but nothing similar to the action that he has been facing the last few months. Now that he’s played 43 games and gotten into the swing of things, I’d have to say things are looking pretty good for him.

Related: Red Wings’ Sebastian Cossa Dives Into His Professional Career

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At the start of the 2022-23 season while he was commuting between Grand Rapids and Toledo, things were a little rocky. He played three games in the AHL and had the worst numbers of his career with a 5.57 GAA and .783 SV%. However, this was to be expected since this was his first time facing that level of competition, and led to him finding a home with the Walleye where he has been able to flourish. He had also captured his first professional win in his debut with the Griffins which was certainly a huge career milestone for him.

With a 2.52 GAA and a .913 SV% (as of April 3, 2023), he is absolutely killing it in Toledo. He has made over 1,000 saves (1,213 to be exact) and has a 25-15-3 record. Not to mention the fact that he’s been the primary goaltender for the team in his rookie season. Seeing him grow accustomed to playing at the pro level here in North America has been fun to watch, to say the least. His highlights as a member of the Walleye have been jaw-dropping at times and just exactly what you’d want to see from a young, developing goaltender.

Out of all ECHL goaltenders, Cossa is currently ranked seventh overall for GAA and 13th for SV% (as of April 3, 2023). This is a huge accomplishment for a rookie goaltender given that he is going against well-seasoned veterans in these rankings. The other Walleye goaltender that is near the top of both of these lists is John Lethemon – a Michigan State alum that was just signed by the Red Wings earlier this season.

One of his most impressive stats this season has to be in regard to shutouts. Cossa has recorded four shutouts through 43 games – just two fewer than his 2021-22 season with the Oil Kings in which he had six. For a rookie goaltender, getting this many shutouts at a higher level of play is a big compliment to his improvements and development as a player. He was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of Feb. 27 – March 5 for having a .982 SV% through two games with one of those games being a shutout. On top of all that, he was even named to the ECHL All-Star Game roster this past January. What a way to start off a pro career!

The Future is Bright for Cossa

The Walleye all together have had an incredible season with the highlight of it being their 18-game win streak. Yep, that’s right, you are reading that correctly – 18 straight wins. Cossa was an integral part of it as he was in net for 10 of those victories. This has been a season to remember for him and he has shown us all exactly what he’s made of in each game he takes his place between the pipes.

Cossa has his first pro playoff run coming up in the near future as the Walleye were one of the first teams to secure a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs this season. As someone who is native to the Toledo area, the atmosphere at these Walleye playoff games is insane. The fans are so dedicated to their team and show up in masses to every game, even those on weekday nights. This atmosphere will be an incredible thing for Cossa to experience and I am truly excited to see how he fares in the postseason.

In the WHL Playoffs last season, Cossa was a huge reason why his team went as far as they did in the tournament. He had a 1.93 GAA and .919 SV% through 19 postseason games as the Oil Kings went on to win the playoffs and were named the 2022 WHL Champions. He and his teammates then competed for the Memorial Cup but unfortunately fell short in the round-robin style tournament, winning one game in overtime and then losing the next two.

One can only hope that he is able to put up similar numbers to his last postseason run this year in the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Walleye are looking to make another huge run in the tournament as they made it to the Final last season, only to lose to the Florida Everblades on the road. They are ranked third in the league currently with 43 wins and 18 losses, so things seem to be promising for their playoff hopes once again.

Beyond this season, who knows if Cossa will be back for another full season in the ECHL before getting a role back with the Griffins in the AHL or if he’ll just be deemed ready for the jump up to the NHL. Goaltender development is a process that is never to be rushed if you want the best results. Just because Cossa has been having a stellar season in the ECHL does not by any means mean that he will be up in Detroit next season. However, it is something to celebrate for the time being.

There are always going to be some mixed emotions about goaltenders because there seems to be an expectation of perfection stuck in the minds of some fans; however, that rhetoric shouldn’t deter you from being excited about another great young prospect. There is no such thing as a perfect goaltender and there likely never will be one, but there are plenty of incredibly skilled and talented ones out there, it just takes time to become one.

It feels good when you start making big saves. I just try to focus on the next shot. No matter how tired I am I’ll do the best I can. I just try to take it one shot at a time.

– Sebastian Cossa, from “Walleye goalie Cossa expected to be Red Wings netminder of the future,” The Toledo Blade, 4/1/23.

If we all want Cossa to be the goalie of the future that he has seemed to be, we have to play the waiting game. So far, things are going pretty peachy for him and it’s going to be interesting to see how his timeline unfolds. He has accomplished and proved a lot for only being 20 years old and has certainly continued to stand strong in the midst of a wildly successful Walleye season. Thankfully, the playoffs are coming back to Toledo soon and Red Wings fans can flock to the Huntington Center to support his first professional playoff run. All that being said, the Red Wings might just have their goalie of the future on their hands in the shape of this 6-foot-6 Canadian netminder… or it is at least shaping up to be that way!

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