Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.
Curtis Lazar, a two-way, gritty forward with character and leadership qualities, is the No. 11 prospect.
Stats: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) | 72 GP | 38 G | 23 A | 61 P | +25 | 47 PIM
Who is Curtis Lazar?
Lazar was the second-overall pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2010 Western Hockey League bantam draft. He helped the Oil Kings to their first Ed Chynoweth Cup in modern history last season as league champions, and came within two wins of repeating their title this season.
Lazar was captain of Team B.C.’s gold-medal winning team at the 2011 Canada Winter Games, breaking Steven Stamkos’ record for goals (12) and Sidney Crosby’s for points (17). He was a member of Team Pacific’s fifth-place finish at the 2012 world under-17 hockey challenge and won gold with Canada’s under-18 team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
Curtis Lazar’s scouting report:
Lazar is a coach’s dream. He plays an honest, hard-working game at both ends of the ice and will stand up for teammates at a moment’s notice. He possesses the soft hands in tight to score, and is unselfish in his approach to spreading it around. He’s known for his infectious smile and bubbly personality, and has the leadership traits that made him an alternate captain in just his second season in the WHL.
He plays hard defensively and will deliver a big hit when the moment presents itself. Although not overly shifty or dynamic, he does everything well. Given his presence and hard-working demeanor, Lazar is a safe pick with a lot of potential.
Teams who might be interested in Curtis Lazar:
Lazar should be appealing to many teams given his character and two-way game. The Buffalo Sabres may be interested, considering they’ve taken his former teammate, Mark Pysyk, in 2010. There will be more talented players available when their first pick comes up at No. 8, but he won’t likely be available for their next pick at No. 16. The Phoenix Coyotes, who drafted teammate Henrik Samuelsson last year, may also be in the mix at No. 12.
“Curtis Lazar is one of those consummate, two-way players that every single team needs to be a winner,” explains David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He started off slow, but he had a very good second half and playoffs. He’s a very hard-nosed competitor. He’s not going to go out looking for the hits, but he competes like a Patrice Bergeron, who will always give you an honest, solid effort. He can score some clutch goals, his skating has improved throughout the course of the season and he just leads by example. He’s got great leadership abilities and it wouldn’t surprise me if he would wear a letter at the NHL level.”
“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.”
Lazar was ranked 20th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), and 12th by McKeen’s Hockey and International Scouting Services.