2020-21 Team: Portland Winterhawks
Date of Birth: Dec. 29, 2002
Place of Birth: Souris, MB, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 161 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
Moving from Winnipeg’s AAA leagues to the Western Hockey League (WHL) was a bigger change than Tyson Kozak had expected. He changed his style of play and his role within the team, switching from a powerful attacker to a defensive forward within two full seasons. His defensive mentality has become his strongest trait during his time with Portland, and he has shown himself to be a reliable player on special teams.
Kozak was born in Souris, a small town in the west of Manitoba. He played AAA hockey for the Southwest Cougars U15 team before he joined the organization’s U18 side in 2017. He immediately broke through with the U18 team and had 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 44 games. The following season proved to be even better for the forward, as he recorded 72 points (26 goals, 46 points) in 40 games. This season alone was enough for him to convince a WHL team to sign him, and he joined the Portland Winterhawks during the 2018-19 season.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Kozak’s offensive productivity was not as consistent for the Winterhawks as it had been for the Cougars, but he was still a strong contributor on both the top and bottom six. His first full season was fairly strong, registering 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 63 games. He played 18 games of the shortened 2020-21 season and briefly returned to his home province to play for the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
Kozak has several defensive qualities for a center and uses these traits to retain possession for his team or to create counter-attacking hockey. He is able to check players efficiently and can stay tight on any opposition player. He is a forward by trade, but he has significantly lacked a dominant offensive stance during his time with Portland. Therefore, he will need to make major changes to his physicality and work with the puck if he wants to become a powerful and well-rounded center.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Tyson Kozak – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
Kozak is one of three Winterhawks players to receive a “C” grade for the draft. He has been projected to be selected in the third or fourth round of the draft, although the fourth round seems a more realistic possibility.
“Kozak is a defense-first center who uses his skating and awareness to tilt the ice and create possession for his team. His hands, however, limit his ability to help on the offensive side.” – Kurt Pohs, FC Hockey
“Kozak is a two-way forward tabbed as a ‘C’ prospect by NHL Central Scouting and is coming off a 29-point season and should see an expanded role with some key forwards gone this season.” – Josh Horton, Sound of Hockey
- Retaining the puck
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Puck movement
- Puck handling in the offensive zone
Kozak would be a good option for a penalty-killing unit because of his ability to restrict the opposition, but he may not receive an offensive role at the start of his NHL career.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6/10, Defense – 7/10
Kozak won a bronze medal in the WHL Cup in the 2017-18 season.
Tyson Kozak Statistics
James is a graduate of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), where he studied Broadcasting in the hope of becoming a sports reporter. He coincided his studies with a part-time job at Rogers Place and saw many memorable moments for the Edmonton Oilers.
James currently runs his own YouTube channel and its website, both called From The Anvil. He post regular content about West Ham United – his favourite soccer team – and has appeared on many soccer podcasts. He covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.