Brandon Kozun is a tough guy to figure out for the purposes of compiling a list of the Top 25 players under the age of 25.
On the one hand, Kozun has brought quite a bit of offence, first as an 18 and 19 year old with the Calgary Hitmen (leading to the Kings taking a flyer on him in his second year of eligibility), and then through four seasons in the American Hockey League with Manchester and the Marlies (Kozun was traded this past January to Toronto in exchange for Andrew Crescenzi), where he has never managed less than 45 points over a season. Very few players on the Marlies that we also look at for this list have that sort of record to their name, much less even one season in the AHL at that level.
Having said that, a player's future prospects as a member of the Maple Leafs (or at least another NHL club) are a significant consideration when trying to make some sense of the list, and Kozun, in addition to being 24 and making his first and only appearance on our list, is not what many would consider a significant NHL prospect.
Kozun will have a bigger role this season with Marlies. Should be a top-6 RW. Speedy and has the ability to score. Will likely get minutes on PP. I don't expect to see him get called up to Leafs. - Kyle Cicerella
(Read more of Kyle's thoughts from the season on Brandon Kozun here.
It was those opposing thoughts that the group struggled with when trying to place Kozun; if taken on his merits, he's probably in the middle range of this countdown. If taken on his future potential, he's probably not considered. In the end, we split the middle, ranking him 24th overall, one point ahead of #25 on our list, Dominic Toninato.
It's easy to lose sight of the fact that the AHL is still a quality hockey league, and Kozun, at age 24, is still at an age where future development isn't out of the question. Having said that, Kozun's a little on the smaller side, though, so trying to picture him in a bottom six role in the NHL is a bit tough, especially on a team coached by Randy Carlyle, and especially with the vast amount of bottom-six options brought in to the Maple Leafs this summer.
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He's a career AHLer, so I didn't really consider him. - SkinnyFish
Kozun occasionally got lost in the shuffle on a deep Marlies team last year but he has scored at every level. His size will always limit him but I would like to see what he could do given the opportunity on an NHL 4th line. - 67Sound
The people that left Kozun off their ballots tended to lean towards SkinnyFish's assessment, while the ones who put him on their list were of the belief that Kozun's accomplishments, while not necessarily indicative of a future NHL career, were better than anything a lot of other players on this list have either accomplished or can be expected to accomplish. In the end, Kozun earned enough points from four voters to nestle into a spot sandwiched by a one point difference between #23 and Toninato on our list.
Kozun signed a one-year extension, and as Kyle Cicerella pointed out, will be looked on as a reliable source of offence for a young Marlies forward corps, along with likely returning captain Trevor Smith.