Despite trade rumours swirling around the floors of the Prudential Centre in New Jersey and big moves being made, the Senators stayed put with the seventeenth overall pick, selecting Curtis Lazar.
The centerman scored 38 goals this season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. In the immediate aftermath of the pick, Lazar was described as a dependable, all-around talent. Writes Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:
"He has blazing speed, high hockey IQ and a thick frame," said one scout. "He’s hard to knock off the puck."
With a number of offensively gifted players still available, Bryan Murray and his staff opted for a projectable player, adding to a wealth of skaters capable of playing a strong-skating, 200-foot-game.
In pre-draft interviews, both Pierre Dorion and Bryan Murray indicated that, should they be unable to move up to a higher pick, they would be selecting a player who will need time and development. This seems to be consistent with the selection of Lazar, who figures to be a two-way forward for the Senators in seasons down the road.
Bryan Murray had expressed an interest, as he is wont to do, in moving further up the draft board. Evidently, the price to do so was unpalatable, and the team was content to stay in its spot. Any disappointment among fans for Murray's reluctance to part with assets is sure to be muted by analysis of the pick and excitement for what he can bring to the team down the road.
The first round up to the Senators pick was rife with excitement. Sens fans watched as New Jersey and Vancouver shocked hockey, all the while cringing as exciting players fell off the board. A few talents optimistically slated to fall to the Senators, such as Bo Harvat and Samuel Morin, didn't come close. Max Domi, who wasn't expected to be available when Team Murray stepped onto the stage, was also selected. Ryan Pulock, who we had coming to Ottawa with SB Nation's mock draft, went at fifteen to the New York Islanders. Alexander Wennberg was also taken. Fans had understandably grown antsy.
The Senators have picked around this spot a number of times during Bryan Murray's tenure with the Senators, trading up to select flimsy Swedish blueliner Erik Karlsson and swapping a 16th for the St. Louis Blues' David Rundblad, who was anointed by fans, management and media alike, before being parlayed with a second round pick for Kyle Turris. Ottawa took Cody Ceci at 15th overall last year. Picks in the middle of the first round are hardly sure bets to be contributors at the NHL level. Yet, on a young and developing Senators team, Curtis Lazar joins the ranks of one of the highest-ranked prospect corps in the league.
On a day in late June, a new member of the Ottawa Senators is enjoying the highlight of his very young career.
Having parted with their second-round pick during the 2011-2012 sesaon, the Senators will not pick until 78th, unless rampant trade speculation should turn into more than conjecture.
UPDATE: Here's what Sens amateur scout George Fargher said about Lazar after selecting him 17 overall:
Curtis is a really great character kid, we really love his character, he's a good skater, solid kid, plays strong on his skates, plays a solid two-way game. He can also score goals, he scored 38 in the regular season this year. Real solid player we hope has the potential to be a top two line, second line guy and his work ethic is tremendous.
Some kids there's a definite comparison. I think this kid has a chance to be like Ryan Callahan from the Rangers -- that type of player -- gritty player, a two-way guy who can score goals and could be a potential leader on the team in later years.