Welcome to another week of our LBC exclusive all-time Panther countdown. Today we dig into the dirty dozen - and if you'd like to know how we got here, find out more at this link.
Last week, we covered center Rob Niedermayer (518 games, 101 goals, 165 assists), defenseman Paul Laus (530 games, 14 goals, 58 assists), defenseman Ed Jovanovski (319 games, 32 goals, 64 assists), right winger Radek Dvorak (613 games, 113 goals, 155 assists), and left winger Ray Whitney (273 games, 97 goals, 130 assists). This week, we're going to track an ironman defenseman from Alberta, a three-time 50 point man from Welland, Ontario, a Hall-of-Fame right winger from Moscow, an old-school and original Panther defenseman from Willowdale, Ontario, and today's honoree, a Russian center who is set to play the 2012-13 season with the new Yaroslavl Lokomotiv in the KHL.
If you still want more, follow along after the jump.
12. Viktor Kozlov
Kozlov, a 6'4" right-handed center from Togliatti, Russia, scored six goals and five assists in 30 games for Moscow Dynamo in 1992-93. The San Jose Sharks were paying attention, and selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Kozlov spent one more full season (plus three games) with Moscow (45 games, 17 goals, 10 assists).
After three games in Moscow in 1994-95, Kozlov made the jump to the North American game, splitting his rookie season between the Sharks (16 games, two goals, zero assists), and the IHL Kansas City Blades (four games, one goal, one assist). 1995-96 would see him spend much more time with the Sharks (62 games, six goals, 13 assists) than the Blades (15 games, four goals, seven assists).
Kozlov spent another season and a quarter with San Jose (96 games, 21 goals, 27 assists). The Sharks traded him to Florida on November 13th with fifth round pick (became Jaroslav Spacek), for Dave Lowry and a first round choice (eventually became Vincent LeCavalier). He played 46 games with the Panthers in 1997-98, ranking tied for fifth on the squad with 12 goals on 112 shots. He also tabbed 11 assists, a minus-1 rating, and 14 penalty minutes. On March 29th, he scored a season high three points (two goals, one assist) in a 4-0 blanking of the Chicago Blackhawks.
In 1998-99, Kozlov put up multiple points in 12 out of 65 games. He had four three-point games, and had a season high four points (two goals, two assists) in a season opening 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He averaged 19:03 per game, scoring 16 goals on 209 shots and a Panthers second best 35 assists. He also had 24 penalty minutes and had a team second best plus-13 rating.
1999-00 would see Kozlov enjoy 17 multi-point games. On January 5th, Kozlov had a season high four points and his first career hat trick in a 5-1 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (see video). He averaged 19:27 over 80 Panthers games, leading the team with 53 assists and adding 17 goals on 223 shots. He only drew 16 minutes in penalties, finishing second on the club with a plus-24 rating (linemate Pavel Bure had a plus-25). Florida's top line of Bure, Kozlov, and countdown #13 Panther Ray Whitney combined for 235 points (104 goals, 131 assists) and a remarkable combined plus-65 rating. Kozlov added one assist in four playoff games as the Panthers were swept by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. He was recognized for his first half with his first (and only) all-star selection.
Kozlov was limited in 2000-01 to only 51 games due to an injury. He enjoyed his best game of the season in a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, totalling three assists on January 31st. Despite his limited schedule, he finished second on the team with 14 goals (Bure had 59) on 139 shots. His 23 assists were good for third on the squad. He finished with a minus-3 rating and spent only 10 minutes in the penalty box, averaging 18:23 TOI.
In 2001-02, Kozlov averaged 19:54 through 50 games (his season ended early due to an abdominal strain suffered in early February). He scored nine goals on 143 shots, pitching in 18 assists and finishing with a minus-16 rating and 20 penalty minutes. On November 16th, he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
2002-03 would see Kozlov lead Panthers forwards with a 22:35 ATOI through 74 games. He also led the team with 34 assists, lighting the lamp a team second best 22 times on 232 shots. He had a minus-8 rating and 18 penalty minutes. He had 12 multipoint games, including two three-point games. In the second game of the season, he logged a goal and two assists in a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Kozlov spent the first part of the 2003-04 season with the Panthers, averaging 19:30 TOI through 48 contests. He scored 11 times on 116 shots with 16 assists, a minus-4 rating and 16 penalty minutes. On February 10th, he scored both Panther goals in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Just a few weeks later, on March 1st, the Panthers traded him to the New Jersey Devils for Christian Berglund and Victor Uchevatov (advantage, NJD).
After playing in 11 games for New Jersey (two goals, four assists) to finish out the season, Kozlov joined the Russian league with Tolyatti Lada for the 2004-05 campaign (52 games, 15 goals, 22 assists). He rejoined the Devils for one season after play resumed (69 games, 12 goals, 13 assists). He later played one season with the New York Islanders (81 games, 25 goals, 26 assists) and two with the Washington Capitals (148 games, 29 goals, 66 assists). He joined the KHL with Ufa Salavat Yulayev for three seasons starting in 2009-10 (132 games, 37 goals, 49 assists). Currently, he is a member of the new Yaroslavl Lokomotiv franchise, slated to begin play with the start of the 2012-13 season.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons (seventh all-time), 414 games, 101 goals (eighth all-time), 190 assists (fifth all-time), 291 points, (fifth all-time), plus-4 rating, 118 penalty minutes, 28.2 APS.