With the rather dramatic improvement of Sam Carrick’s role effectiveness, who is currently in his sophomore season with the Toronto Marlies and Jerred Smithson solidifying himself as a go to bottom six center and shut down forward, the Toronto Maple Leafs dealt 20 year old Andrew Crescenzi to the Los Angeles Kings for 23 year old right-winger Brandon Kozun. Kozun who is a Los Angeles native but dual citizen represented Canada at the world juniors with now organizational teammate Nazem Kadri also played with Jonathan Bernier during his time in the Kings organization. Although somewhat slight in nature at a generous 5’8″ and 180lbs, Kozun brings considerable skill and scoring acumen to the Marlies; at the AHL level he is another considerable offensive threat for this young squad heading towards the post season for coach Steve Spott to call upon.
“Talent Analysis – Small and elusive with great skating skills. Kozun’s competitiveness and offensive skills keep him on the ice despite large and more physical competition. Despite his size detractors Kozun has been a consistent near 50-point player in the AHL for the past three seasons.” according to Hockey’s Future.
“Future – Kozun is getting to the point where he has to make the transition out of the AHL and into the NHL. Despite the everlasting concern with his size, Kozun has been a consistent leader and contributor with the Monarchs. At age 23 you have to figure his time for the NHL might be nearing, and he will have a shot in the 2013-14 season. If he is not kept on the NHL roster after camp, look for him to make at least few mid-season appearances depending on injuries and such. If not, Kozun might be destined to be one of those undersized AHL players who never makes the jump to the NHL despite the good numbers” added Hockey’s Future.
Although Josh Leivo has impressed in his limited call ups to the Maple Leafs and with Hamilton native Spencer Abbott who appears to be developing much faster than the Leafs could have even hoped for, there was still some need for additional organization depth at the forward position before the end of this season and taking a flyer on Kozun who is an RFA at the end of the year makes some sense. If he doesn’t manage to impress or is not called up for the remainder of the year, he is still a much needed offensive upgrade for the Marlies potential run into the post season. The organization did not release too much in order to acquire him and it could at worst free up a much needed roster spot for next year with Crescenzi still having two years left on his current deal.
Wishing Crescenzi all the best with the Manchester Monarch’s and the Los Angeles Kings organization, it was a pleasure to watch him here in Toronto and was a potentially savvy pickup by the Kings, at 20 years old the sizable center could still very well develop into an effective shut down center and here is hoping he does. As always, food for thought.