By Woodard, Dale on October 8, 2020.
Alex Cotton is bound for the Motor City.
Which is fitting, considering in the 2019-20 Western Hockey League season the second-year defenceman for the Lethbridge Hurricanes had an offensive output that went into overdrive.
On the second day of the NHL draft Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings selected Cotton in the fifth round and 132nd overall.
Following a season in which the six-foot-two, 180-pound blue-liner from Langley, B.C. led all WHL defencemen with 20 goals and 67 points in 63 games, Cotton landed squarely on the Red Wings’ radar.
He learned the good news as he monitored the NHL draft online.
“I was just sitting on the couch with my family,” said Cotton. “I was the first one to notice. I was so relieved. All of my emotions came out at one time, it was just a surreal feeling.”
Though he was the first to notice his selection, Cotton quickly brought his family into the loop.
“They all freaked out just as much as I did,” he said. “Mom burst into tears like a mom should.”
Cotton’s selection caps off a breakout year for the defenceman the Canes selected selected in the fifth round and 99th overall in the 2016 WHL bantam draft.
After a two-goal, 11-point rookie campaign in 2018-19, Cotton put up a little over six times that output last year, hitting the 20-goal mark and leading all WHL defenceman in scoring when the season was cancelled in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those totals were seven power play goals and 31 man advantage points as well as four game-winning goals.
Cotton’s 20 goals were second among WHL defenceman, just behind Everett’s Jake Christianson’s total of 22.
His longest point streak was eight games, running from Nov. 1 to Nov. 20, scoring four goals and 12 points in that span.
“Obviously, it was a great year and I was happy with it,” said Cotton. “There were still some areas I could have been better, to be honest. But other than that it was an unbelievable year and it helped me get drafted by Detroit.”
With the pandemic ongoing into the fall, the WHL regular season start was bumped from Oct. 4 to Dec. 4.
Despite the unprecedented – not to mention uncertain – time, off-season preparation hasn’t changed for Cotton.
“I’ve been doing the same as I’ve been doing to prepare for any season,” he said. “I’ve been skating and training every day and having fun golfing a lot and things like that. I’m just getting ready for next season.”
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