x

Already member? Login first!

Comments / New

Tampa Bay Lightning Top 25 Under 25: #19 Max Crozier

Max Crozier (right) and Dylan Duke (left) celebrate a goal at 2023 Dev Camp
Max Crozier (right) and Dylan Duke (left) celebrate a goal at 2023 Dev Camp. Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via Twitter

We took a look at all 35 players in the system that are aged 25 or younger (as of October 1, 2023) and ranked them. Welcome to the Top 25 Under 25. At #19, meet a new member to the Syracuse Crunch family, defender Max Crozier.

Bio

Age: 23

Position: Right Defense

Draft: 2019 Round 4 (#120 overall)

2023-24 Team: Syracuse Crunch (AHL)

2022 Ranking: Not Ranked

Stats

Scouting Report

Max Crozier is back on our radar this season after completing his college career and jumping into a semi-regular role on the Syracuse Crunch after earning an ELC with the Lightning. The 6’2″ defender is mobile, good with the puck, and plays with a physical edge. Crozier was the captain of Providence College last season, a mark that puts a player in high regard from me, and put together a significant amount of points, finishing the season as his team’s highest scoring defender.

Crozier won the USHL championship in 2019, scoring 43 points in 60 games, and 11 points in 12 playoff games. Throughout his four years in the NCAA, he scored 71 points in 119 games, improving to nearly 0.7 ppg in his final two years. Once he got to the Syracuse Crunch, he was put on the team’s third pair with either Ryan Jones or Declan Carlile. He also played a game with 1LD Trevor Carrick when he first arrived. In his nine regular season AHL games, Crozier impressed. He earned three assists on 16 shots over nine games, and in Game 1 of the playoffs he peppered Jordan Subban with eight shots, finishing that series with 14 shots in five games.

Points generally don’t matter for defenders, especially because it’s only connection to a player’s performance is whether he’s on the power play or being sheltered. But to some extent, having a history of being able to put up points improves a defender’s ceiling significantly. Defenders who get to be on the power play, and play with top players are either glass cannons or genuinely important players. For Crozier to be the captain of his team, carry the physical frame he has, and be quoted as having good two-way instincts, he’s landed himself in a good position among non-star defenders coming out of the NCAA. He has the potential to be a real boy.

Seeing Crozier’s transition and puck handling skills at the blueline has allowed him to stay a scoring threat even as he moves to the pro game. That’s huge, because if a coach knows you can help the team score, they’re more likely to keep giving you opportunities to play and contribute. Another bonus for Crozier is that his style of play fits in perfectly with what the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking for (big, mobile defenders at the point who can create rebounds). It’s totally within his ability to stick Crozier in the same conversation as Perbix, Raddysh, and Carlile when it comes to right side defenders next to Hedman/Sergachev or third pairing options.

None of this is to say Crozier is a perfect player. No one could argue that, except his parents. Defensively, Crozier works hard, but has struggled to get his reads of the play correct. He’ll often overplay the puck and see himself fall out of position, whether it be by being too physical along the boards or attacking too aggressively in transition. It’s a double-edged sword that Crozier plays, which a lot of defenders can get away with — I’m thinking early Sergachev hockey, which he is thankfully phasing out of his game at the age of 25. The AHL will be an excellent training ground for him to improve the thinking part of his game and balance risk vs reward.

Looking ahead, we can expect to see Crozier spend a full season in the AHL with the Crunch, at the very least. If things go extremely well, he could be on tap for a mid-season promotion, ala Raddysh. In most scenarios, however, we could see him challenge for a roster spot a year from now in training camp or until November, like Perbix did. What we’ll need to see to make that happen is seeing Perbix taking the job of Philippe Myers, who was the 1RD last season for the Crunch. If the Lightning move his contract (or at the very least see him walk as a UFA), that could mean they think the two other RDs in their prospect system are ready for more action. Those two defenders being Crozier and Jack Thompson. The bad scenarios are if he can’t hold down an AHL job, either from offense disappearing or the big mistakes catching up to him.

I’m very curious to see how Crozier handles himself at training camp and with a full season in the AHL. He’s a promising young defender, and his success would probably shift my thinking about the Lightning as being a team that can find good middle-six wingers on demand to finding useful NHL defenders via their NCAA pipeline. Three becomes a pattern, and we could have as many as five in the lineup between the two rosters.

https://friars.com/sports/mens-ice-hockey/roster/max-crozier/8893

Highlights

Crozier got the assist on this goal from Walcott. He pinched down the boards and whipped the puck towards the net with a backhand while off balance. It created a rebound that Walcott buried.

Again, good reflexes from Crozier getting the puck off his stick quickly and at the goalie’s pad looking for a rebound. Walcott once again found said rebound and buried it to get the Crunch back into a game against the Laval Rocket. One thing I like about Crozier is his offensive game is already played at NHL speed. He looks quick on the ice.

This was Crozier’s first career AHL assist, a contested stretch pass that got to Walcott, who found Finley in front of the net to knock home the goal. Crozier had four shots in this game.

Here’s Crozier with Providence jumping up and scoring the overtime winner with a big effort play.

Here’s Crozier stepping up in the neutral zone to create a turnover for a goal.

If you enjoyed this article please consider supporting RawCharge by subscribing here, or purchasing our merchandise here.

Support RawCharge by using our Affiliate Link when Shopping Hockey Apparel this holiday season!

Talking Points