Player: Curtis Lazar
Drafted By: Ottawa Senators (17th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 20 North American skater
Height/Weight: 5'11'', 193 lbs
DOB: February 2, 1995 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: WHL, Edmonton Oil Kings
Curtis Lazar has been a solid two-way center for the Edmonton Oil Kings over the past two years. Lazar scored 20 goals and 31 points as a rookie before exploding for 19 points in 20 playoff games as the Oil Kings captured the WHL title.
Scouts were playing close attention to Lazar in his second year with Edmonton, but the Vernon, B.C. native struggled early in the season. But he finished strong, scoring 14 goals and 23 points in his final 20 games. He also had a plus-25 rating for the season.
Full Scouting Report
Curtis Lazar is a power fwd who "does his best work in the battle areas." He'll add intangible grit to a scoring line http://t.co/ZO4hj9FR4H— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) June 14, 2013
Lazar has an NHL-ready shot, but most scouts view him as a two-way center rather than as a big goal scorer once he reaches the NHL. His skating ability is an asset. Lazar also has earned a reputation for standing up for his teammates when necessary, as he did in the CHL Prospects Game when he dropped the gloves with Darnell Nurse. Lazar is good in his own zone and should be a responsible defensive center in the NHL.
Before the draft, International Scouting Services had this to say about Lazar:
“Lazar is a gritty and hard-working 200-foot player that also has some high-end offensive ability,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He’s a very good linear skater with good hands and a strong release on his shot, making him a very dangerous shooting option off the rush. He is intelligent around the net, has good vision and can set up in the perimeter effectively as well. Lazar is an all-situations capable player who has the skill to compete against top opposition and always seems to up his game when the stakes get higher. I would expect him to start putting up some significantly higher offensive numbers the remainder of his junior career.”
NHL Player Comparison
Lazar is a poor man's Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. He is a hard worker, takes the body when called upon and, while not an elite scorer, will come up with big goals in clutch situations.
If he's willing to accept a third- or fourth-line role, Lazar could be in the NHL by the 2014-15 season. The key may be adding a little more muscle to his 5'11", 193-pound frame, which would help him when playing against older and larger players than what he faced in the WHL.
At the very least, Lazar figures to be a third-line checking center who will slow down opposing teams' top scorers, drop the gloves when needed and score the occasional goal. Because he takes coaching well and is popular with his teammates, he may wear a letter after a few years in the NHL. His top-end potential is probably as a second-line two-way center who can score 20 goals and put up impressive plus/minus numbers and kill penalties.