I have done a couple of “Staying or Going” articles this summer and this time the attention is turned towards Curtis Lazar. I’m not referring to ‘Going” in terms of being traded because I do not see that happening in the near future, but rather the chances of him being sent back down to the Western Hockey Leagues’ Edmonton Oil Kings.
Curtis Lazar is a highly thought of prospect in the Ottawa Senators organization and is looking to get the chance to become a full-time National Hockey League player out of training camp. The 6’0”, 196 lbs forward had a terrific year last year in the WHL scoring 41 goals and 35 assist in only 58 games with the Oil Kings. On top of a great regular season Lazar was named to the Canadian Under 20 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship team where he was one of the best players and supported an “A” on his sweater. The tournament did not go so well for Team Canada but Lazar came out of that tournament opening many eyes around the hockey world. After returning back to the WHL he lead his team to a Memorial Cup Championship. With all that accomplished, Lazar is looking to take the next step to become a full-time professional player.
Curtis Lazar is a great two-way player. Known for his work ethic, skill and leadership. Lazar is praised for his on ice and off ice attributes. The Ottawa Senators view him as a high character guy that can be apart of the organization for a long time moving forward.
Going into September, the 17th overall selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft will have an opportunity to make the team out of training camp. There was thoughts going into the summer that Curtis Lazar will be moved to wing to give him the best chance of making the team. It is always hard for a first year centre to have a positive impact in the league, so it is probably best if he were to move to that position to set him up to have the greatest success possible. With the signing of David Legwand it looks all the more likely that this will happen.
There are a few other players fighting for the same spot as Lazar, but I think he will be given a shot with the club out of training camp unless it is clear that he is not ready to make the jump. In my opinion Lazar will be given a shot for at least 9 games and will be re-evaluated then. At this point if the Ottawa Senators determine he needs another year in junior they can send him back before his entry-level contract kicks in. Similar to what they did with Mika Zibanejad in the 2011-2012 season.
If Lazar makes it pass the 9 game mark I don’t think he should get too comfortable. In all likelihood it will be a continuing evaluation process by the Ottawa Senators. If Lazar makes it past the 9 game mark he will be then reevaluate around the World Junior tournament. If the Senators feel like that Curtis Lazar is struggling or not fitting, they can send him off the to the World Juniors, as the Minnesota Wild did with Mathew Dumba last year. Many believe that Curtis Lazar could be the captain of the next Under 20 team if he is available to take part into the tournament. Lazar is currently attending the summer camp for Team Canada along with fellow Ottawa Senators prospect, Nick Paul. After the tournament they can then determine whether he can make a difference for the Ottawa Senators or if he should be sent back to junior to develop a little more. There are many question marks going into this season and it will be interesting to see how this breaks down, but there is no question on what a bright future Curtis Lazar has.