January 23, 2014
TORONTO- The acquisition of Brandon Kozun should give the Marlies a much-needed scoring threat on the front end, according to head coach Steve Spott.
Kozun, who was picked up from the L.A. Kings organization via trade for centre Andrew Crescenzi, has posted three straight 20-goal seasons with the Manchester Monarchs since turning pro in 2010, including a career-best 26 goals in 74 games in 2013.
“When you look at Brandon’s numbers in Manchester he’s usually on the top for scoring,” Spott told LeafsTV after Thursday’s practice. “He’ll come in and play top-six. He’ll give us some offensive push, which we need…It’s no secret the one area we needed to address was our offensive output.”
Currently the Marlies are in top spot in the North Division and are scoring 2.92 goals-per game, which is fourth-best in the Western Conference. Often times, however, the club’s lack of skill up front has been noticeable and they have had to grind out goals far too frequently, especially with key players currently called up to the Maple Leafs.
Defenceman T.J. Brennan is the only Toronto skater with more goals this season than Kozun- who had 10 goals and 29 points in 43 games with the Monarchs- while Spencer Abbott is the only forward on the Marlies with more points.
Crescenzi, who originally signed as a free agent with the Leafs in 2010 after going undrafted, had a goal and an assist in 32 games this season with Toronto, playing in a shutdown role.
The 6-foot-5, 208-pound centreman, who played junior in the OHL under Spott, is already familiar with the Kings’ organization.
“When he played for me in Kitchener it came down to the L.A. Kings and Maple Leafs,” Spott said about the 21-year-old’s options while playing in the OHL. “And he’s been to a camp in L.A. before. It’s a good trade for both hockey clubs and gives both players a fresh start.”
While this trade helps the Marlies right now, Spott is optimistic that Kozun may be able to offer something to the Leafs in the future, even if he is listed at just 5-foot-8 and 162-pounds.
“(Leafs VP of Hockey Operations) Dave Poulin and I spoke at length that the mandate for Brandon will be no different than other players, it’s to get him to the Maple Leafs one day,” said Spott.
The 23-year-old right-winger will most likely slide onto the second line alongside centre Sam Carrick and winger Jerry D’Amigo, while Josh Leivo, Greg McKegg and Abbott stay together as the top line.
Kozun, who was drafted 179 overall in 2009 by the Kings, put together back-to-back 100-point campaigns with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen before turning pro with Manchester and is already familiar to Spott.
Both were part of Canada’s U-20 team that took silver at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon.
The Marlies next game is against the Bulldogs in Hamilton on Friday. Kozun is expected to be in the lineup.