I think it’s fair to say that since he was drafted 17th overall in 2013, Curtis Lazar has been a disappointing first round pick for the Ottawa Senators. When he captained the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup championship in 2014, Senators fans were excited about Lazar’s future on the team. When he made the team as a 19-year old, Senators fans thought a future leader was about to be born.
Instead, he hasn’t proven that he deserves to be in the NHL.
It has been frustrating to watch a player touted as the “most likely player in the draft to be an NHLer” not be able to produce at this level.
I don't think Lazar's upside is dynamic, why I have ranked a little lower. One of the safer bets to be a solid NHLer though in the draft.— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) June 30, 2013
I’ve been extremely hard on Lazar, so I won’t dive too deep about his poor production. However, I think it is important to note that since he came into the league, 382 forwards have played at least 1000 minutes at 5 on 5. Out of those 382 players, Lazar ranks 366th in points per 60 at 0.78.
That mark puts him tied with Chris Neil and Steve Ott. He hasn’t exactly had much success at offense.
Yes, he is 22 years old, and some players take time to develop. But he has played 175 games for Ottawa with just 36 points and I just don’t see how he is going to one day magically get better hands and some offensive ability. It just does not appear to be a part of his game. I know there are some that still have hope he can be a decent player, but it seems like the majority of the fanbase is ready to move on from Lazar.
The last thing I want to see is another Jared Cowen situation where they wait too long to see if he can become anything, and then it is too late to trade him for anything of value.
There are multiple factors at play regarding a possible Lazar trade, and it complicates things. We know these things:
- Ottawa has only 4 draft picks in 2017 (1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th)
- Bobby Ryan is out for at least a month, and Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone could be back within the next five days.
- If Ottawa trades for another forward (which would most likely cost a pick), there is no room for Lazar when the lineup is healthy
- Ottawa does not want to just give him away for free
With that in mind, a Lazar trade may not be that simple at least from the team’s point of view. Because the Senators only have four picks this coming draft, I think it would be wise for them to trade him for a pick (maybe someone would be willing to give a 1st, but a 2nd is more realistic).
It may not be the best draft, but that doesn’t mean each pick is worthless. If a team offers a decent prospect in return instead of a pick, then that is a good idea as well.
The Senators farm system is in a much better state than it was a couple years ago, but it can dry up pretty quickly if an entire draft is decimated. Furthermore, it is not as if the Senators have an elite group of prospects that cannot get better. Gaining a first or second round pick is not going to save the draft entirely, but it would certainly help.
It might be especially important to get this extra pick if Ottawa wants to acquire another forward like I mentioned yesterday. What if a team like the Devils is willing to move P.A Parenteau for a 2nd round pick? Well, Ottawa doesn’t have a 2nd rounder this year or next year.
Perhaps they can move Lazar for a 2nd round pick, and then move that for a player like Parenteau, Radim Vrbata, or Patrick Eaves. If the Senators do make a trade for another forward, they are essentially just swapping Lazar for the incoming player, and moving draft positions. They would still have the same amount of picks as they do now, which is not ideal, but four is better than three.
Considering that I have little faith Lazar is going to be a helpful NHL player, and that an incoming player will be someone proven, I will take that trade every single time.
Now, I know that yesterday I did say that Ottawa needs to acquire a right-winger, not get rid of one. Ryan will be out for a while, and even if Stone and Hoffman are healthy, their lineup still looks a bit thin. However, with just Ryan out of the lineup, Lazar is easily replaceable and not the answer on the third or fourth line.
The lines can look like this, and there would be no drop-off from losing Lazar:
The bottom six does not look great, but would Lazar even be a huge upgrade over anyone?
That’s why it would be wise to trade him for a pick or prospect before his value gets even lower. The Senators can replace him internally, plus they need the pick for the 2017 draft.
I’m not sure what teams are willing to give up for him, but there might be someone who is going to overpay and offer a close to NHL-ready prospect. No matter what, there is not much of a downside to moving him.
The Senators would have one fewer body to play in case of injury, but it seems like Guy Boucher does not really want to play him much when all the forwards are healthy. Furthermore, the chances that he becomes even a 40 point player are just so slim at this stage.
There is a chance that his value gets higher in the summer, but I wouldn’t count on that. I just really hope the Senators aren’t too attached to their first round pick as they usually are. Considering that there are rumours he has asked for a trade, maybe Ottawa is more willing to move him compared to a few months ago:
He has not shown that he is an effective NHL player, plus Ottawa needs another pick or prospect in order to keep the farm system well stocked. I’m not necessarily expecting a trade to happen, but it would be nice to see Ottawa get ahead of the game and let another team discover that Lazar is not going to be a point producer.
The next six days should be interesting.