19-year-old Curtis Lazar is one of the few under-aged hockey players skilled enough to crack his NHL team’s opening night roster. The Salmon Arm, B.C. native had a strong preseason which earned him his shot with the big club. With the 10 game mark of the season looming, the Ottawa Senators must decide if Lazar is ready to stick around for a longer chunk of the season, which would burn the first year on his entry-level deal.
Lazar’s audition for the Senators came after a WHL season where his Edmonton Oil Kings went on to win the Memorial Cup. So far through seven games this season, he has recorded two assists.
In the third game of the season versus the Colorado Avalanche, coach Paul MacLean said that Lazar was a force to be reckoned with. He recorded his first career NHL point with an assist on Zack Smith’s goal. He was also named the second star of the game.
Here is the video on Lazar’s first NHL point, which was inches away from being his first NHL goal:
Lazar averaged between 14 and 15 minutes of ice time in his first four games, but watched his ice time drop to under 11 minutes in the following two games. He was playing on the 4th line and it looked like the possibility of him being sent down was more likely.
However in the last game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Lazar looked fantastic on a line with Mark Stone, 22 and Mike Hoffman, 24. It was an interesting idea of MacLean’s to put the three players together since the trio only has a combined 73 games of NHL experience. All three forwards were on the bubble heading into training camp, but they all ended up making the cut. The “kid” line looked like they belonged at the NHL level on Thursday night against the Blackhawks. The line chipped in offensively with the first goal of the game.
Any questions about Lazar sticking with the Senators after ten games this season should be put to rest after his performance against the Blackhawks.
Lazar looks about as NHL ready as any 19-year-old currently playing in the NHL. After a memorial cup championship season with the Edmonton Oil Kings last year, he doesn’t really have much else to accomplish at the junior level. Although he hasn’t scored yet this season, his two points in seven games is a respectable start to his NHL career. He is big enough physically to play at the NHL level, and is bound to improve as he gains more with the Senators.