Former Leaf Brandon Kozun has signed a PTO with the Avalanche
Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
A former Leaf who last played in the NHL nearly a decade ago is attempting a comeback in the Mile High City.
Brandon Kozun has signed a PTO with the Avalanche and will try to secure a permanent deal following eight seasons of professional hockey in Europe. He is the second former Leaf alongside Peter Holland to crack Colorado’s training camp roster in the leadup to the 2023-24 campaign.
Originally selected 179th overall in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Kings, he spent the first four seasons of his pro career with their then-AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. He was traded to Toronto midway through the 2013-14 season in exchange for Andrew Crescenzi. Kozun would finish the year with the Marlies and recorded 17 points in 32 games while adding six points in 14 playoff games, good enough to earn him a one-year contract in the subsequent offseason.
During the 2014 preseason, he burst onto the scene with an impressive five-point showing that helped him grab one of the final spots on the opening night roster. However, things took a turn for the worse just five games into his NHL career when he suffered a left leg injury from a collision with Red Wings defenceman Kyle Quincey. Kozun was never the same after that injury as he only played in 20 games and registered four points (two goals and two assists).
He was unable to earn an extension with the Leafs so Kozun took his talent to Europe where he would spend most of his time in the KHL, save for one year with HC Ambri-Piotta in 2021-22. In 347 games split between Jokerit, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, Magnitogorsk Metallurg, and Minsk Dynamo, he recorded 106 goals, 151 assists, and 257 points.
During Kozun’s time overseas, he also got to represent Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics where his two assists in five games helped them earn a bronze medal. That almost never happened as during doping testing leading up to the Games, he was pressured into not taking the test which would have resulted in a lengthy suspension despite not having taken any performance-enhancing drugs. He ultimately settled with the WADA and IIHF on a backtracked one-year suspension which allowed him to continue his career without issue.
He spent this past season with the Dynamo as their captain where he produced 24 points in 41 games played and tallied three assists in six playoff games as Minsk was eliminated in the first round by SKA St. Petersburg.
Kozun certainly will have his work cut out for him to try and get a permanent contract in Colorado as the Avalanche are stacked with other forwards competing for a spot on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, but it is hard not to root for a guy attempting a comeback after so many years removed from his first stint in the NHL.
Stats from Hockey-Reference.com.
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