At this point in free agency, the focus shifts from the gems to flawed guys who can still bring some skill to the table. So, going forward, we’ll spotlight individual players who are flying under the radar.
Today’s entry: Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov.
Name: Slava Kozlov
Height: 5-10 Weight: 190 lbs.
Strengths: Playmaking, goal scoring
Weaknesses: Strength, size, age, defense
09-10 totals: 55 GP, 8 G, 18 A, 26 P, -15, 33 PIM
The 2009-10 season was a disaster for the aging winger in Atlanta. After putting up big numbers running with Ilya Kovalchuk in 08-09 (76 points), his totals plummeted 50 points to 26 in an injury-plagued 09-10 season.
There are plenty of problems with Kozlov. As I listed in his weaknesses, he’s getting long in the tooth (he’s 38 years old). He won’t threaten the Pavel Datsyuks and Ryan Keslers of the world for the Selke Trophy and he’s small. Versatility is not one of Kozlov’s calling cards.
Still, if he’s willing to play at a discount on a short term contract, it’s possible that he might have enough juice to be a good depth forward. He struggled last season and in 07-08 (41 points), but he put up 76, 80 and 71 points in his other three seasons since the lockout. Since turning 30, Kozlov hit the 20+ goal mark five times.
You won’t find many sports writers calling Kozlov a “warrior” but he could be a useful (and hopefully cheap) option for teams seeking a veteran scoring winger. Would your team benefit from taking a small gamble on Kozlov?