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Curtis Lazar set to make NHL debut tonight

Curtis Lazar will make his regular season NHL debut tonight against the Nashville Predators.

"It's not so hard to score goals in the NHL after all!" - Curtis Lazar
"It's not so hard to score goals in the NHL after all!" - Curtis Lazar
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Curtis Lazar is Ottawa's most-hyped prospect since the previous most-hyped prospect (Ceci? Silfverberg? Rundblad?) and he's set to make his regular season NHL debut tonight in Nashville.

Lazar was the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and followed that up with an extremely impressive year: he was a point-per-game player in the World Junior Championships for Canada, he had 41 goals in 58 games in the WHL, and he helped lead his Edmonton Oil Kings to a WHL Championship and a Memorial Cup victory. He's known for playing a 200 foot game, and his excellent forecheck and backchecking abilities were prominently on display during Ottawa's preseason games.

He's expected to start the season centring a line with Chris Neil and Mike Hoffman as his wingers, but could move to the wing at some point to allow Zack Smith to get back to centre. While it's nice to see him line-up with a skilled young player in Mike Hoffman, this appears to be the fourth line and there's some concern with the minutes Lazar will be getting into.

Prior to this season, it seemed more likely than not that Lazar would only play 9 NHL games before being sent back to juniors (to prevent using a year of his entry level contract), but recent comments from Bryan Murray suggest that might not be so. When announcing that Lazar made the team, Murray hinted that it might not be temporary:

"Right now, he'll have to play himself out of the lineup, I think... I'm envisioning him having a real good chance of staying.

While that might seem shortsighted for Lazar's development, it's not surprising given that Murray has frequently spoken about a return to the Pesky Sens of 2012/13, and Lazar fits that hard-working style perfectly.