Let’s Talk About Hickey, Muzzin, Voynov And, My Man Crush, Brandon Kozun

Thomas Hickey told Rich Hammond today, “I want to make this team really bad.” I laughed out loud. Kids today, gotta love them. He of course meant he badly wants to make this team. The question I ask is this – if not now, when? Hickey was a 2007 draft pick. He is on the last season of his contract. While “defensemen take longer” (a cliché made for Hickey), at some point you have to decide if this kid is good enough to make the big club or is he, to quote Surly from today, trade bait? On the depth chart, I put him behind Muzzin in development. Hickey seems above average in every area of his game. I struggle to find any weaknesses but I also find little that stands out about him. This is the problem with Hickey. He is the compact sedan of our defensive depth. Economical and gets you from point A to point B, but if you’re going win a race, pick up chicks or run over Ducks’ fans, you need speed, style or size to go with it.

Jake Muzzin. A smooth skater, good acceleration, he can hit, he can take a hit, plays with an edge and has a quiet dirtiness / mean streak to him that I can see yearning to come out. At the rookie camp, he was a man among boys. Today, he fit right in with the professionals. For Jake, this is his spot to lose but watch out for Voynov, because he is coming on strong. Jake is equal or better than Hickey in every area of the game. He comes with some big club experience (an intangible you must not underestimate with our coach) and he, with Matt Greene, give us size and a physical edge in our 5 and 6 defensive spots while Alec Martinez takes the top 4 spot. All of this assumes He Who Must Not Be Paid holds out. If he does, it may be, at this point, a coin toss between Muzzin and Voynov as to who makes the team, although there is still plenty of camp and two exhibition games left.

Vitaly Voynov can skate, if not flat-out fly. I saw that today with my own eyes. He has a great shot, with an unusually short wind up. I keep asking myself whether he is good enough defensively? I didn’t watch him as closely as I wanted to today but, from what I saw, he looked pretty not bad. I asked myself whether the fact he is an offensive defenseman, an asset we have plenty of, gives him a reasonable chance to make the team? But I then come back to, “what the hell is He Who Must Not Be Paid? Isn’t he an offensive defenseman?” If you had asked me a few days ago, I would have told you Voynov wasn’t going to make the team. Ask me today and I am not so sure. I think he may be neck and neck with Jake Muzzin as of this minute.

“Does Kozun do anything you don’t like?” Surly asked me today. “No…I love him” I answered. Brandon Kozun is ready. He is the fastest forward on the team and may be the fastest overall. His first step, mid-range and top speed are orgasmic. He can score from anywhere, as he showed during the first rookie game. That snipe top-shelf from the bottom left circle left grease on the cross-bar for 20 minutes. He plays to his strengths. You don’t see him hanging out passively along the boards waiting for the play to come to him. Brandon goes after the puck when it is loose and, when it’s on his stick, it’s either on net or fired tape to tape to a teammate. Kozun will score 20 goals if he makes the team as the third line right wing. “You’re freaking crazy, Scribe” you yell back? Bet me. The problem is, will he make it? There is so much competition for that 3rd line right wing spot and, unless Terry’s enthusiasm matches mine, Kozun may find himself in Manchester where he may tear AHL goalies apart.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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15 replies

  1. “Manchester alongside Tyler Toffoli where, together, they may tear AHL’s goalies apart.”

    Toffoli can’t play in the AHL, he has another year in juniors.

  2. I saw Kozun in last Sunday’s evening practice. He was far and away the best player my (uneducated) eyes saw. And, he sniped a top shelfer off the cross bar from the left circle that day too. There it was near the inside (center of ice) hashmarks. It invoked* loud “oooooohhhhhs” and “ahhhhhhhhhs” from the other players involved in the drill

    Adding to your search cred: boobs, boobies, titties, and beer.

    *Let it be know I won’t use the past tense of “to draw” until HWSNBP is on the ice.

  3. Kozun is absolutely as good as promised. A ready TODAY to play on the team exceptionally handed ready to go sniper who likes the physical game. His old billet family used to call him the hockey machine for how much he sleeps eats and breathes the game and I think he is one of our better prospects to come along up front in awhile. A real gem.

    Your Dman dilema is what it is and I too have struggled with it for awhile. With the exception that I think what allot of people are mistaking as average defencive skills for VV is really just the style his game is played. He is so fast and smooth, a truly great skater and as a result he rely’s on his feet to get him into position, or at least he used to do that.

    Now he plays a better positional game and it is showing. I like him for a 3/4PMD who can run a PP unit in a little time.

    Muzz is the best all around prospect who is also ready for his shot and a pretty safe kid to put into the line up. In time he will become confident enough at the NHL level and show how solid his O game is.

    FInally Hickey. Hickey is good, very good and will be a good PMD in the NHL for years to come. I watched several of his games toward the end of last season and his game has developed and would only require a watchful eye while he got accustomed to the NHL game before he would start really producing. He is also a very good choice for a D spot. To me it is either VV or TH’s job to lose and my hat goes off to VV this time.

    All three are solid choices who look very ready to play some limited NHL minutes right now and maybe a few regular shifts even.

    It is time.

  4. I’ve been championing Kozun for a couple years now. He just screams “I am incredible and will defy all odds placed on a player of my size.” the dude is a miniature stud.

  5. I’d love to see what Kozun can do on the power play for this team – I think that’s where he’d make the most damage. He demonstrated some nifty ability to quickly cycle the puck when pressured and had some beautiful cross-ice passes for tap-ins. I don’t think he’d hold up for all 82 games and Hunter could steal a roster spot, but he’s definitely ahead of Toffoli at this stage in the game, where most anticipated a battle for a roster spot.

    I wouldn’t be disappointed if Hunter were to make the roster – I think at this stage you need size in the bottom 6 with a little scoring ability, plus Murray tends to like larger players for the grinder-style cycle game. With Zeus’ size coming out of the lineup, then Simmonds’ (sometimes) intensity gone as well, I think you need some physically intimidating wings to play against the likes of a Douglas Murray to shake him up a little bit. Brownie made a couple runs at him in the playoffs, even Westgarth, but I think we become a team that other teams’ defensemen begin to fear. Imagine a 6’4″ Penner on the forecheck, with a 6’3″ Kopitar, then followed by Richards and Brownie who can really crush people, then a 6’3″ Moreau and Hunter out there. I think opposing d-men will start making some ill-advised passes in the d-zone to avoid being crushed. Once Westgarth learns to skate and finish his checks, then we’ll be set!

  6. Stop drinking!

    Kozun is nowhere near ready. He’s good but not even close to being NHL ready. The pre-season will show that. Kozun is good one game then disappears the next.

    Muzzin hits? He was outplayed by Phoenix’s rookie scrubs during the 2nd game (were you there?) – He is simply another Drewiske who will probably be better with another year of Manchester seasoning.

    Hickey, when healthy is a smart, smart player. Think Lubo. Won’t hit but is a leader on the ice (Muzzin isn’t) and knows how to break out the puck.

    Voynov, everyone is looking forward to see what he can do. He SHOULD be ready, but the first time Bobby Ryan leaves him in the dust will be the tell tale sign if he loses his confidence or not.

    IMO of course.

  7. Hickey has enough talent to play in the NHL. Problem is he’s Kings property. If he was any of 23 other NHL teams, he would be on a starting roster on opening night. Depth on defense is sickening when you look at the talent that can’t make our line up. Hickey does have an above average skill set. He has been a leader at every level so far. He’s done everything the Kings have asked. Yet the only reason he doesn’t stand out to some is because he’s lost in the shuffle.

    Muzzin? See Hickey. Like Kyle Quincy was in Detroit, Muzzin is a good defenseman who is burried in a deep system. Unlike Hickey, he is a hybrid and has a little more upside, but being owned by the Kings won’t gaurentee him a spot come opening day like it would if he was owned some other teams.

    These 2 are the same age, and at 22 to say these guys are running out of time because of the younger guys coming up. Only the Kings can say that confidently about 2 prospects in their early 20′s.

    Voinov is lucky that he is a little younger at 21, because there’s no room for him either, but he can spend another year in the minors and no one would complain, unless he shows he can be the next Bobby Orr. We will be phasing out some D for a couple of years after this season, so he can wait for now.

    Unless were hit with injuries as if Andy Murray were coaching things, I don’t see enough room. Maybe Whiskey, or Greene are traded, but I doubt it. Whiskey would have to take a serious step back to lose his spot, and Johnson moving to the top pairing would move Martinez up to the 2nd which means Muzz or Hickey could see some time, but it won’t be permanent unless they can beat out Whiskey who is already the #7.

    DD will be back eventually, and these guys will be back in the AHL. I wouldn’t knock them if it happens that way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen that way.

  8. “His signature will appear below the S&S logo until the big day.”

  9. Matt you’ve tipped your hand that you aren’t the real MB, he like Scribe and I have a serious addiction to Kozy and I can’t disagree with you more on your assessment of his game. He is and has always been known as an all out all the time player, if he wasn’t he would just be another small talented player of which there are many who never touch NHL ice.

    Muzzin/Hickey and VV are all about the same for me, to say that Muzz was outplayed by pho fails to take into account the talent that pho’s kids have, the coaching and the fact that Muzz wasn’t outplayed. He wasn’t perfect but he wasn’t outplayed either.

    Who knows though eh?

  10. “Jake is equal or better than Hickey in every area of the game”

    This is very wrong. Hickey is a far better skater, passer, and positionally much better. I don’t trust Muzzin positionally yet

  11. RIght, that is true. Hickey is a somewhat better skater and passer than Jake but positionally speaking I would argue that they are about the same with the edge going to Muzzin for a couple of reasons.

    Jake stays at home and in position more frequently costing him somewhat on the offensive rush and Hickey being the better skater is more agile down low and thus more capable of recovering allowing him the opportunity to have a larger positional area of coverage.

    The difference is skills between the two even out when you add in the fact that Muzzin is a superior presence in front of the net and more capable at bringing a physical edge to our blue line. That isn’t or shouldn’t be Hickeys game. Muzzin is also a better than average skater with solid puck handling skills and a big shot so I see the two players balancing out in as far as value is concerned.

    They both bring different things to the table and are solid D prospects in their own ways.

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