Red Wings’ Cossa On Quick & Skinner’s Path to NHL Greatness

The Hockey Writers

Detroit Red Wings fans have high hopes for Sebastian Cossa. The 15th overall 2021 Draft pick has a big frame (6-foot-6, 209 pounds) to go along with great athleticism. He was selected ahead of Swedish goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, who ended up being selected by the Minnesota Wild five picks later. As with any first-round draft pick, expectations are high with Cossa.

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

Fans should be excited about Cossa for many reasons including the great season he is having in the ECHL. Although it is an easier league to play in than the American Hockey League (AHL), Red Wings fans should have their concerns put to rest, as many great NHL goaltenders have spent time in the ECHL en route to becoming NHL starters. These other goaltenders can give us an insight into how long it might take him to play 20-30 games for the Red Wings.

Cossa’s Great 2022-23 ECHL Season

Cossa has played 45 games in the ECHL this year to go along with three games in the AHL. In those 45 games, he has a record of 26-16-0. He also has a 2.56 goals-against average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage (SV%) to accompany that winning record.

Related: Red Wings’ Cossa Having an Excellent Season in the ECHL

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There have been a surprising number of goaltenders who have risen through the ECHL ranks to become starting goalies for their NHL clubs. I will look at three goaltenders that are at different points in their careers as well as a couple of goalies whom Red Wings fans will be more familiar with.

Jordan Binnington

Jordan Binnington came out of the gate running in his rookie NHL season. He became the St. Louis Blues’ starting goaltender after being called up and eventually played 32 games. He earned a 24-5-1 record with a 1.89 GAA and .927 SV% to boot. The Blues went on to win the Stanley Cup in that 2018-19 season, with Binnington tending goal through the entire playoff run.

St. Louis Blues Jordan Binnington
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Rewinding five years to the 2013-14 season, Binnington was in a similar situation to Cossa. He backstopped the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL for 40 games. He posted great numbers with a 2.35 GAA, .922 SV%, and a 23-13-3 record. He spent the next four years playing every game in the AHL except for one game during the 2015-16 season. Similarly to Cossa, he earned the Goalie of the Month title for the month of December during his time in the ECHL.

Stuart Skinner

Stuart Skinner is experiencing a similar season to Binnington’s rookie year. In his 50 games in 2022-23, Skinner had a 2.75 GAA and a .914 SV% to go with a 29-14-5 record. There were times when Jack Campbell was struggling and Skinner kept the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff dreams afloat.

Stuart Skinner Edmonton Oilers
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)

In the 2018-19 season, Skinner split his time between the AHL and the ECHL. He only played six games in the AHL, but spent 41 games with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. In those games, he sported a record of 15-14-7. He paired that record with a .903 SV% and 3.16 GAA. Even though he didn’t have amazing numbers, it’s clear that the workload he had was an impactful experience. It took three years after that heavy ECHL workload to become a full-time NHLer.

Jonathan Quick

At the other end of the spectrum, Jonathan Quick is nearing the end of a fantastic career. He has won Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy as well as a William Jennings Trophy (awarded to the goalie, or goalies, who have the lowest goals against in the league with at least 25 games played). He has also been a Vezina Trophy finalist several times.

Jonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Quick split his 2007-08 season between the NHL (three games), AHL (19 games) and ECHL (38 games). In those 38 ECHL games, he sported a winning record of 23-11-3. Additionally, he posted average numbers in save percentage (.905) and goals-against average (2.79). The following year he only played 14 games with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL before starting 44 with the Los Angeles Kings.

Ville Husso

Binnington, Skinner and Quick are all success stories outside of the Red Wings’ organization. Within the organization however, both Alex Nedeljkovic and Ville Husso both spent time in the ECHL. Husso spent 13 games in the ECHL three years before starting 17 games for the Blues in the 2020-21 season. Comparatively, Nedeljkovic played 12 games for the Florida Everblades in the ECHL three seasons before playing 23 games for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2020-21 season (just like Husso).

Ville Husso Detroit Red Wings
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There are many other success stories of goalies going through the ECHL system and coming out as NHL regulars. These goalies have typically become NHLers between two to four years on average. Binnington, Skinner, Quick, Husso and Nedeljkovic all spent time in the ECHL. Although their games played there varied between 12 and 41, none of these goalies had stellar GAA or SV% numbers.

Cossa has the athleticism and ECHL experience to make the NHL in two to four years. When he does, he has the opportunity to be as good or even better than Binnington, Skinner and Quick.

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