Buffalo Sabres: Respected outlet endorses Tyson Kozak call up

Rochester’s Tyson Kozak breaks up ice against Toronto.
Rochester’s Tyson Kozak breaks up ice against Toronto. /

If there is one dark horse prospect who can find himself in a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2023-24, it’s Tyson Kozak, and for several reasons. 

When you look at my latest lineup projection for the Buffalo Sabres, I  have a surprise on the fourth line. Tyson Kozak snuck his way onto the lineup, and while there are few circumstances in which I’d allow a seventh round pick with just one season of professional hockey experience onto an NHL roster, Kozak is an outlier.

To make a long story short, his strengths complement the Blue and Gold’s weaknesses, and I’m perfectly fine putting him onto the same line as Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons for a short time given their overall experience. But I’m not the only one comfortable with seeing Kozak getting a chance, as Jacob D. Strozyk of The Hockey Writers listed Kozak as one of three Sabres prospects they would like to see getting a call-up.

"“Kozak will likely fit in well in the Sabres’ bottom-six forward group in the future as he possesses the right attitude and drive to replace either Kyle Okposo or Zemgus Girgensons down the road. Does he have the talent to play in the NHL full-time yet? No, but he does have what it takes to get a small sampling of the NHL. The 20-year-old center is the type of player that head coach Don Granato loves to use in pressure situations, so if the opportunity arises for him, Kozak deserves a call-up.” – Jacob D. Strozyk, via The Hockey Writers"

Buffalo Sabres prospect Tyson Kozak can be a stopgap for a few months

So let’s break down what Strozyk wrote here. For one, he could indeed be the eventual replacement for either Okposo or Girgensons following the 2023-24 season.

Or, he may even line up at center, as I’ve projected him in my Lineup 5.0. However, Peyton Krebs has shown to be effective at fourth line center (with Quinn in the lineup) and he will likely re-sign after 2023-24, so that would bump Kozak to winger as Okposo and Girgensons are likely in their final respective seasons in the Queen City.

As for this season, I also agree that Kozak shouldn’t get more than a small sample should he get the call up for the duration of Quinn’s injury. This is if the Sabres don’t end up surprising us and signing a forward, and I also feel he should be rotating in and out with the 13th/14th skaters, which would give him an opportunity for him to watch games from the press box in between times he would dress.

Related Story. Major network lists Dahlin as serious Norris contender. light

This would give him perhaps a 15-20 game sample, similar to what we’ve seen from Brett Murray in 2021-22 when injuries struck the Buffalo Sabres. Once Quinn is either back, or if the Sabres sign a forward in-season, then Kozak would revert back to and finish the season in Rochester unless, of course, if he gets an early call up and is excelling in Buffalo.

Source: 3 Sabres Prospects That Deserve Call Ups in 2023-24 by Jacob D. Strozyk, TheHockeyWriters.com