The Buffalo Sabres unveiled their first-round draft picks to the Western New York media Tuesday, with center Dylan Cozens and defenseman Ryan Johnson both thrilled to get tours of KeyBank Center, meet the team's support staff and get prepared for the start of development camp Wednesday in Harborcenter.
"I'm excited for my first NHL camp," said Cozens, the Yukon native taken No. 7 overall Friday night in Vancouver. "It's something I've dreamed about for my whole life, so to finally be here is very exciting."
"The city is beautiful. It's unbelievable really," said Johnson, a California product taken at No. 31. "You never know with the draft. It could be any team. In my position, late-first or early-second (round), I was just kind of anxious to see who would take me and it just depends on what a team wants. I was happy when Buffalo chose me."
Johnson will be playing at the University of Minnesota next season and most eyes at development camp will be on Cozens, who would like to push to make the NHL roster.
"I know I have a lot of work to do if I want to make the jump and if I'm privileged enough, I think I'll be ready to play next year," Cozens said. "If not, I'll go back to Lethbridge and I'll lead my team there."
Cozens flew to Buffalo on Sunday and said he has been recognized multiple times walking around the city.
"It's definitely setting in that I'm starting to live my NHL dream," he said. "Just walking and they're like, 'Are you the first-round pick?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.' Just talking, congratulations, shaking my hand. It's definitely a hockey town. You can just tell by everything they want to win and they're hungry for success."
The reaction has been swift in his hometown of Whitehorse as well.
"Just lots of people saying how Buffalo got 35,000 new fans," Cozens said. "Everyone is supporting me and it's going to be most of Whitehorse's new favorite team, so it's pretty cool."