Curtis Lazar is one of, if not the brightest prospect in the Ottawa Senators system. Selected 17th overall by the Senators in 2013, Lazar has been dominant in the Western Hockey League for the WHL’s Eastern Conference leading Edmonton Oil Kings and also starred on Team Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championships.
Lazar has 30 goals and 58 points in 42 games so far this season, and his 28 assists are already a career high. He is also a +38, which is a testament to his all-around play.
Like I have said before when looking at these prospects, stats don’t tell the whole story. So, I have enlisted the help of Alicja Siekierska, who covers the Oil Kings for the Edmonton Journal. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about how Lazar looks as the season progresses.
Q. First off, Has his game changed since a standout performance personally, although disappointing result team wise at the World Juniors?
A. What you saw of Curtis Lazar at the World Juniors was not surprising for the people who have been watching him all season long here in Edmonton. That kind of standout performance is a standard Curtis Lazar performance. It’s what he was bringing to the table before the World Juniors, and what he is still bringing now in the last half of the WHL season. He could be named one of the three stars of just about any game.
Q. From all his media appearances since being drafted by Ottawa, he seems like a very well rounded, down to earth kid. Is that the way he is all the time?
A. Yes, he really is. The kid just won’t stop smiling. I think it’s safe to say that he is extremely well liked by players, coaches and media alike. This year, he’s proven to be a leader on all the teams he’s been involved in (Oil Kings, World Jrs. and Team WHL in the Super Series), he’s extremely coachable and approachable with reporters.
Q. What are his biggest strengths on the ice?
Pardon the hockey cliché, but he’s an excellent two-way player – a threat in the offensive end, particularly in front of the net, and a great backchecker. He’s also one of the first players Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal turns to for both the penalty kill and power play (as was the case with Brent Sutter during the world jrs.)
He’s a very strong and quick skater. And despite not being the biggest guy on the ice, he’s not afraid to throw his body around – something I’ve noticed him doing more of over the past couple home games.
Q. What factors of his game does he need to work on to get to the next level?
A. His size is something he could work on – he’s definitely not the biggest player on the ice by any means in junior hockey.
It’s funny, but I’ll admit that I actually struggled with this question – he’s just that good of an all-around player, at least at the junior level. I posed the question to Curtis himself, and he spoke about leadership and professionalism – which are areas I actually think he’s doing fine in.
He’s been playing centre all his life, but in the world juniors he was being put on right wing often. Perhaps he should work on adjusting to playing on the wing – that might help make his transition into the NHL quicker.
Curtis is a great player, obviously, but I think he’ll still need time before making the significant jump to the NHL. I think going down to Binghamton could be a good fit for him after training camp this season – I don’t know how beneficial it would be for him to return to the Oil Kings, although I’m sure they’d love to have him around for a while – what junior team wouldn’t?
Well there is a quick look at how Curtis Lazar is doing this season, and how he is developing. When we got our real first look at him during the World Juniors, you couldn’t help but get excited if you are a Senators fan. It looks like that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his future with the organization.
Many thanks again to Alicja Siekierska for relaying some of her observations and thoughts about his play for the Oil Kings this season.
Check out my previous prospect look-ins: