Brandon Kozun made an impressive, but short-lived debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season
It took Brandon Kozun exactly 8:04 minutes to create a positive first impression on fans in his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He used his lightning-quick speed and natural talent to help set up the Leafs’ first goal of the 2014-2015 campaign.
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After such an impressive start, however, he quickly faded from view. An early-season injury would see Kozun sidelined until December 10, but even that return would prove short as he spent the rest of the season bouncing between the Leafs and the Toronto Marlies.
In total, Kozun would dress for 20 games as a Leaf, averaging 7:55 minutes in ice time per game. His speed and talent made him a useful offensive weapon, but his diminutive size led to trouble in battles for the puck against players who dwarfed him.
Mar 14, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Brandon Kozun (67) skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
At 5-8 and 167 pounds, Kozun simply isn’t built for a third- or fourth-line role. Unfortunately, the presence of Phil Kessel and Richard Panik on the right side pushed Kozun down the team’s depth chart; there was really no other place to play him.
A lack of size and an inability to stay healthy would ultimately limit Kozun to four points (two goals, two assists) in 20 games last season. He was also limited to a paltry eight shots and registered a minus-three rating. Thus, it shouldn’t really be a surprise anyone that his sharp debut proved elusive and illusory.
Kozun entered the off-season as Group 4 unrestricted free agent, but a lack of interest from the Leafs and other NHL teams saw him head for the KHL. He’ll now hope to see more playing time and possibly prepare for an eventual return to the NHL on foreign ice.
What were your initial thoughts on Kozun? Did you bite on that first assist or were you always skeptical about his full potential? Will the Leafs regret letting him leave for the KHL? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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