For all the talk about hoping to move up or possibly moving back, the Senators ultimately stood pat at 17 taking Edmonton Oil King and Vernon BC native Curis Lazar. This meant passing on two players in Adam Erne and Kerby Rychel who had been invited to Ottawa for supplementary interviews and testing in the days leading up to the draft.
A center who can play the wing, Lazar is listed at 6'0 198lbs, though in an interview following the pick Bob Stauffer (who's seen him play upwards of 50 times in Edmonton) relayed he was probably just shy of that height.
Taken 2nd overall in the WHL draft, Lazar at times had been slated to go in the top 10 earlier in the season, but the consensus prior to Sunday was he'd go somewhere in the teens, which is exactly what happened.
Let's see what the boxcars say…
|2011/12 regular||Edmonton Oil Kings||63||20||11||31||58|
|2011/12 playoffs||Edmonton Oil Kings||20||8||11||19||4|
|2012/13 regular||Edmonton Oil Kings||72||38||23||61||47|
|2012/13 playoffs||Edmonton Oil Kings||22||9||2||11||20|
The goal totals this season are the best news here, 0.53 goals/gm in your draft year is an excellent sign as is leading a championship team in playoff scoring as a 17 year old…on the other hand 34 assists in 135 WHL regular season games.
Beyond junior, Lazar does have some international and national experience having played U17's last year, on the U18 team this spring and most famously breaking Stamkos goal and Crosby's point record at the Canada Winter Games, putting up 12 goals 5 assists in 6 games for team BC.
And the take on his game from the scouting services…
".. a responsible and diligent two-way forward .. makes valuable contributions with or without the puck – exploiting sharp hockey sense and good awareness .. powerful, balanced skater when in flight, however could benefit from more explosiveness .. hands are more quick and strong than finely skilled .. packs a hard shot whose release is both fast and fluid .. dangerous when trailing the rush with speed and firing a one-timer full bore from the slot .. steadily maturing and progressing as a playmaker .. now assesses options before joining the fray and will re-direct pucks to teammates instead of taking low-percentage shots .. should improve his finesse skills and puckhandling in traffic .. can move the puck however as he possesses adept one-touch skills and an ability to execute at a feverish tempo .. can get through defenses with his tenacity – getting key touches on the puck an overwhelming defenders with his speed and persistence .. displays a defensive conscience and positional maturity that belies his age .. neither big nor overly mean, yet fiercely competitive and deceiving toughness .. continuously engaged both mentally and physically .. comes back deep in strong support positions – and will deliver stiff hits throughout his own zone .. functions most effectively in more of a secondary role – and not front-and-center in the attack."
"Playing on deep championship club allowed him to focus on play away form the puck, working toward a more complete game. Great first step explosion and has the speed to turn the corner on defenders using great puck protection. Has a clean, powerful stride and his strength on skates is a major asset – never gets knocked off the puck. Highly agile with great edging. Constantly involved in the physical aspect of the game and can dominate play down low. Determined and relentless in puck pursuit, creating space and opportunities for linemates. Crashes the net with intensity and hunger. Gets great torque on powerful shot. Tends to get tunnel vision with the puck in tight. Already plays a no-nonsense pro style – keeps things simple and avoids mental lapses. Big game player can elevate his level."
"Lazar is a well-rounded forward, with the benefit of having one of the smallest risk factors in this draft (in terms of probability of becoming an NHL player). He is an above average skater who can flash plus ability in that area. He covers a lot of ice due to his tremendous work ethic, as he is always moving his feet. He can change gears quickly, and he picks up speed well. Despite being a trade undersized, he is a solid physical player who is good on the forecheck. He is not afraid to drive the net, either. He is one of the best defensive forwards in this draft, and is very good in that area for a player his age. He takes checks very well, knows how to position himself in his own end,a and does not ten to hurt his own team. Similar to the prospects preceding him on this list, there is debate over his offensive ability. I see him as a player with above-average offensive skill, but one scout I talked to said he is shy in displaying offensive creativity, and that he tends to rely on safe plays. He has solid hands, good instincts, and a very good shot, but his offensive progression will determine what kind of NHL player he will be."
For those looking for a style comparison; Dustin Brown or Ryan Callahan seem to be the most common names bandied about. Obviously if he became as good as either of the those players Ottawa would be thrilled, but as far as comparisons go it seems at least somewhat realistic and apt when watching his highlights:
Unfortunately the CHL doesn't publish TOI, but in lieu, Eric. T over at BroadStreetHockey estimated totals for some of the top draft prospects this year. I'll let you go read his post and explanation, but basically one can figure TOI and quality of competition fairly accurately based on simple boxscores. In Lazar's case this method estimated he only played about 17.3 minutes a night, that's in comparison to guys like Shinkaruk at 26.4, Monahan at 27.3 and Mackinnon at 26.9 to name a few. All this to say Lazar was pretty offensively efficient in the minutes he got – with a sure increase in ice-time in 2013/14 his production should improve as well.
Genuinely excited to hear what he looks like on the ice at development camp.