Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Alex Cotton.
Undrafted last year, defenceman Alex Cotton had an absolutely monster season and has been noticed as a draft re-entry. The Langley, British Columbia native led all WHL defencemen in points and was named to the league’s Second All-Star time. He put up 20 goals and 47 points for 67 points in 63 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. It was a real breakthrough after struggling in his first two seasons in the league.
Drafted in the fifth round, 99th overall, in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Cotton first saw action in the 2017-18 season, though it was limited. He played just five games but did not record a point. Instead Cotton played for Yale Hockey Academy Prep School, putting up 11 goals and 43 assists for 54 points in 32 games. He led the CSSHL in points by a defenceman. He added a goal and two assists for three points in three playoff games. In 2018-19, he played the full season with Lethbridge. However, Cotton was limited to just two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 54 games. There were signs of his offensive improvement in the playoffs though. Cotton had one goal and three assists for four points in seven games.
Alex Cotton Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born May 12th, 2001 — Langley, British Columbia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 175 lbs [188 cm/79 kg]
Cotton’s skating could use some work. He has very good speed and acceleration moving forwards, as well as a good first step. However, he could stand to improve his backwards skating. His feet are a little bit static as well, as he needs improvement in his lateral agility. Cotton loses speed through his turns and can improve his edgework as well. He also could work on his lower body strength, which would help him to be better on the boards and improve his balance.
Cotton is a smart player who sees the ice very well and can quarterback the power play. He has poise with the puck on his stick and anticipates where his teammates are moving. A quick move with his stick can create a passing lane and help him find a teammate. He also can fake a shot to open up those passing lanes. Cotton keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone and this helps him to create space and opportunities. His passing ability is also an asset in his own end, as he moves the puck up the ice quickly and starts the transition game. He can also avoid forecheckers with his skating and stickhandling and get the puck out of his end.
Cotton can score from the point as well. He has a good, but not great, slapshot and one-timer. As he gets stronger, it may be even more powerful. He really excels with his wrist shot though. It is powerful and accurate. He has the ability to get it off very quickly and get it on the net. Cotton is dangerous when he sneaks down from the point and lets his shot go from the top of the circles. He is also willing to sneak in further taking a backdoor pass and one-timing it on the net. He is willing to join the rush and drive the net as well.
Cotton’s defensive game is still a bit of a work in progress. Difficulties with his lateral movement and his strength on his skates hurt him in the defensive end of the ice. He has trouble maintaining proper gap control and his feet make him vulnerable when defending the rush, or in working one-on-one with quick and shifty forwards. He also has some trouble battling in the corners and in front of the net. His hockey intelligence is good though, and he has a good stick for breaking up passing lanes and for playing away from the puck. His ability to retrieve loose pucks and move them quickly up the ice helps to limit zone time and can help him in his own zone.
Projection and Comparison
Cotton has offensive skills and the hockey IQ that many teams are looking for in a puck-moving defenceman. However, he remains a bit of a project going forward. He will need time to work on his skating and his defensive game. Cotton could stand to improve his strength, especially in his lower body, as this will make him better in the corners and give him better balance. Cotton’s game is reminiscent of Brian McCabe, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Alex Cotton that are available on youtube and twitter.
Some WHL video today. #28 on Lethbridge Alex Cotton (01) is 2020 Draft eligible and makes a great play here faking a shot and sending a cross ice pass for a goal in open part of the net. He doesn’t wow you but does little things right to help your team be competitive pic.twitter.com/SXDWx24dKD
— Cameron Friss (@cfriss216) May 2, 2020
Just as the PP comes to an end Alex Cotton finds his 14th of the season for @WHLHurricanes
LET 4 | REG 0 pic.twitter.com/VhSFVaqzEb
— Access7 Sports (@Access7Sports) January 25, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Alex Cotton Main Photo:
EVERETT, WA – JANUARY 26: Lethbridge Hurricanes defenseman Alex Cotton (28) fires a pass from his goal line in the third period of a game between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Everett Silvertips on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)