Curtis Lazar: Why So Much Butthurt Over His Play?
Start the flame war and the “you’re an idiot” comments. I’m going to take Curtis Lazar’s side in this battle and I’m going to win you over....maybe.
Last season the Flames made an unpopular move with the fan base when they sent a 2nd round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators for the under-performing Curtis Lazar. The move was met with head scratching and pitchforks as Lazar hadn’t lived up to the lofty expectations assigned to him when the Sens drafted him 17th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Lazar had good WHL numbers with the Edmonton Oil Kings in his first 3 full seasons with the team. He also performed well for the Team Canada’s U20 team (14 games, 16 points) so it would seem that his transition to the NHL would be smooth and he would continue to trend upwards. Eh, not so much.
Curtis Lazar played in 109 games over a season and a half with Ottawa and collected 6 goals and 15 assists before being dealt to Calgary for a 2nd and Jyrki Jokipakka. In his first year in Ottawa, Lazar played in 76 games and had 21 points. Not great, but respectable for a kid in his first year. It was his second season in Ottawa that soured pretty much everyone on Lazar’s potential. He played in 33 games and had a robust......1 assist. So on March 1, 2017, Lazar and his one point were traded to the Flames.
Lazar hasn’t exactly had a career resurrection in Calgary either. He’s played in 38 games and has 8 points overall (5 of those coming this season). So, where and how am I selling you on Curtis Lazar? Well, here: maybe he’s just meant to be a 4th line guy who contributes here and there and plays hard. Is anyone asking Lazar to be a top 6 player? No. When you saw the trade did you expect him to be a 30 point player in the NHL? No. What you were most likely upset about was the price the Flames paid for the BC native. Sure, the Flames sent a 2nd rounder to Ottawa and that seems a little steep for Lazar’s production, but is that his fault? The Flames front office paid what they thought was fair and clearly misfired on the compensation they gave the Senators. It’s not like Lazar said “I’m not going to Calgary for anything less than a 2.” Be mad at Treliving for overpaying, not Lazar for not meeting expectations.
Lazar has settled in nicely on the Flames 4th line and his play of late has improved. He’s been skating much harder, he’s looked much better with the puck on his stick and he’s been getting some good looks at the net. He’s had 9 SOG in his last 6 games, including a season high 3 against the Florida Panthers back on January 12th. He seems like he’s THIS close to getting his first goal on the season and I wouldn’t be shocked if it came sooner than later.
Look, Lazar isn’t going to be Johnny Gaudreau. He’s not going to be Sam Bennett. Hell, he may not even be Garnet Hathaway, but he’s providing a role on the Flames 4th line and he’s not a total dumpster fire. I get the criticism, I get the vitriol because of what the Flames gave up, but what if Lazar is just meant to be what he currently is? Prospects are hit or miss and scouts and teams miss more often than they hit. What if that’s just the case with Curtis Lazar? What if everyone was just wrong when they assigned lofty expectations to a 18 year old kid from Salmon Arm, BC? Sure, Ottawa seems to have reached and the Flames clearly overpaid, but if all Lazar is meant to be is a 4th liner who works hard and can scrap every now and then, is it so bad to dial back the “he should have been this” and just realize he’s a bottom 6 guy who will grind every night?
Lazar has one year left on his contract with the Flames and it’s yet to be seen if he’s done enough, in management’s eyes, to earn another go around with the Flames. Could he be back? Maybe. Could he be traded? Sure. Could he be bought out? Potentially. But there’s a reason he’s still playing and not being scratched and that’s because the Flames see something they like.
I’m not here to tell you Curtis Lazar will go down as one of the greatest Flames of all time. Will he go down as one of the worst? Doubtful. All I’m presenting to you here is Curtis Lazar was “supposed” to be better than he currently is and he clearly hasn’t reached the expectations that were heaped upon him as a teenager. So what? Again, what if everyone else was wrong? Will I convince you to let go of your hate for a 4th line player who averages a little over 9 minutes of ATOI? Maybe, maybe not. But I tried and that’s all I can do. I’m not the Ottawa Senators after all.