The Detroit Red Wings have something of a puzzle on their hands in defenseman Alex Cotton. The 20-year-old defenseman was drafted as a 19-year-old after posting a point-per-game season at the WHL level (20 goals and 47 assists for 67 points in 63 games in 2019-2020), and Cotton kept that pace up this past season (posting 7 goals and 19 assists for 26 points in 24 games during 2020-2021).
The 6’2,” 190-pound Lethbridge Hurricanes defenseman is probably headed back to the WHL for one final season before turning pro with the Red Wings, but The Athletic’s Max Bultman has profiled Cotton, and he notes that big #84 wants to make the AHL or ECHL this year:
“[The Red Wings have] got a really good feel of what Cotts is. I don’t think they’re in any real rush. Plus they’re loaded with prospects and they’ve had so many picks over the last little while that it’s going to be a challenge for any of their prospects to move forward. My expectation is that he’s going to have to be a little more consistent with his play and his puck movement. He’s got to be a little more patient and not try to force things all the time. He’s got to learn that he doesn’t need to hit the highlight reel every play,” [Lethbridge Hurricanes GM Scott] Anholt said. “That’s maturity for me. It’s learning how to conserve your energy, too, because he’s going to be playing against the best players (if he’s back in the WHL this year) and they’re good too.”
Cotton understands that, too. In Traverse City, he made his defensive play his focus, first in the prospect tournament (where he posted a plus-1 rating and four shots on zero points in three games while running one of the power plays) and now into main camp, where he’s one of 20 defencemen on the roster.
“I’m an offensive defenceman who tries to produce and run the power play and the area of my game that needs work is in the D zone so here I’ve been trying to show what I can do defensively and how hard I play. They know what I can do offensively, so I’m trying to prove myself defensively. It’s my first time here. I’m just trying to take everything I can from the pros who have been here before. And on the ice I just love the pace. It’s so much better than junior. It’s so much faster,” Cotton said.
“It would be awesome to go back (to Lethbridge) but at the same time I think I feel ready for pro and that’s my goal. I want to show the big guy up there what I can do and hopefully I can sign a contract here and stay down here for a while.”