|Kozun in training camp (photo: Ikiri)|
Nearly every player who’s been in a game with him or against him has nothing but positive things to share when asked about Kings prospect Brandon Kozun. And much of that has been documented here on MayorsManor since he was taken by LA in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft.
After last year, his first as a pro – where he finished eighth among AHL rookies in scoring (23 goals, 25 assists) and tied for third in the league with six game winning goals – he’s among the Manchester Monarchs most productive players again this season.
When the Kings called up Dwight King and Jordan Nolan last week, Kozun’s numbers were better than Nolan’s and on par with King’s. Yet, he didn’t get the nod. Given his noted creativity and speed, something the Kings offense has been lacking at times, it was at least curious. So, I asked coach Darryl Sutter about it after practice today…
“You have a be a really dynamic player to play in the NHL when you’re a little player. You have to be really dynamic,” Sutter said of the 5-foot-8 right wing. “Those two kids who came in here now, they’re big guys who can skate. That’s what they are, right? When you’re a little guy, you better be really dynamic. How many of them are there? The only one who’s (not a star) that I can think of off the top of my head – and he was a dynamic player at the American League level – is the little guy playing in Montreal, David Desharnais (5-foot-7). I saw him in the American League and I thought, ‘He’s going to play,’ because he was dynamic. You can’t just be in and out. It’s a tough league to play in. The average weight of a defenseman in this league is 220, and they’re as fast as any players you have on your team. So, you have to be a pretty special player if you’re 40 or 50 or 60 pounds lighter than that.”
Even so, King still had praise for his frequent linemate in Manchester.
“Kozy’s starting to heat up. I was playing with him for about the last two months on a line with Linden Vey. They’re both small, skilled guys who use their quickness and their smarts out there. Kozun’s very quick and he’s a competitor too for his size. He wants the puck when he’s out there playing and he makes pretty good decisions with it.”
For the record, Vey is listed at 6-foot. He probably just seems small to King due to the three inch height difference and 50 pounds less on his frame.
Back to Kozun though, King confirmed the creative part of the kid’s game, noting that ‘wanting the puck’ doesn’t mean he just wants to be the guy to shoot it on net.
“That’s what makes him so effective. When he passes the puck and gets open for guys – obviously, when you have the puck all the time, everybody’s focused on you and it’s easier to check. But, when he uses his teammates and utilizes all the ice out there, it’s exciting to see and it’s exciting to play with him.”
For now, the Kings went with size and it’s been working. Nolan and King are both 6-foot-3 and each scored their first NHL goal in the Kings last game.
Can they continue to impress tomorrow night? Sutter hopes so. However, perhaps nobody needs it more so than their center, Mike Richards. He’s scored one goal in the last 22 games…and none in his last 10. So, he could use some help from his rookie wingers.