The NHL trade deadline is right around the corner, and the Senators are surely going to be monitoring the market to see if they can make an upgrade. However, while they might look to add a player, they could also be subtracting one: Curtis Lazar.
He is not going to be traded for certain, but trade rumours have been swirling for the past few months due to his poor play this season. This is not just speculation either, as multiple sources have reported that the Senators are receiving calls on Lazar.
Dreger: "Teams are calling Ottawa #Sens GM Pierre Dorion. They're asking about Curtis Lazar."— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 2, 2017
Along with Dreger, Elliotte Friedman heard similar things regarding Lazar. Hear is what Friedman had to say about the situation:
“He’s not playing a lot, and when he does play he’s not getting a ton of minutes and he’s way down in the lineup. So any time that comes up, you start to hear talk and conversation.
And I think they are being asked. ‘What are you thinking here? What are you doing there? What’s your future plans?’ I have no doubt teams are calling and asking them that.”
“He’s fallen further down the lineup. He just can’t seem to get going. He had some injury problems at the beginning of the year, which affected him. He wasn’t at his peak when the season began. He was playing catch-up.
I just feel that as the Ottawa Senators have gotten going in the last little bit he can’t find his way.”
Not only that, he thinks that Ottawa is apparently asking a lot for their former first round pick, making a trade not imminent:
“I think the Senators are wary about that. You don’t want to see a guy get traded and find his life somewhere else. So everything I understand is that his price is still high, and they’re not treating him as just a regular depth player.”
With names like Dreger and Friedman talking about Lazar in trade rumours, I would believe them. There’s no doubt that Lazar’s name will be talked about until the trade deadline passes or until he gets moved, as he has been a disappointment so far as a Senator, especially this season.
In terms of production, he has never been able to find his scoring touch. He was never a prolific scorer in Junior, although he did have 76 points in 58 games in his final WHL season, so most people believed he could at least be a 40+ point two-way player. That has not happened though, as he has averaged 17 points per season over the course of 172 games.
One can give him excuses such as his younger age of 22, or the fact that he has averaged only 8:24 of ice time per game this season. But even so, he hasn’t done anything positive when he is on the ice. You can see he “tries” hard when he is out there, but that doesn’t matter considering he has a measly one assist in 29 games and is 615th out of 618 skaters in corsi at 39.5%.
Sometimes you can tell if a player is undeservedly getting not much ice time (a la Mike Hoffman from 2014-2016), but this is not the case with Lazar.
I think the majority of the fanbase has come to realize that he is not going to develop into a top player, and even as a fourth liner he has not been very effective. I’ve said this before, but I sincerely hope he can turn a corner and become good just because of how likeable of a player he is off the ice. However, I’m not counting on that happening.
And because of that, I think it would be wise for Ottawa to move on from him. It seems like the Senators are at least contemplating it, but they don’t want to just give him away for nothing such as a mid-to-late round pick.
The Senators also don’t want to see him become good elsewhere as mentioned in the last Friedman quote, which is eerily similar to what the team kept saying about Jared Cowen until they mercilessly got rid of him last February in the Dion Phaneuf trade. My hope is that the same thing does not happen with Lazar, because I just can’t see his value increasing much higher.
His value has never been lower than it is right now, but who’s to say it won’t get lower? What if teams eventually think he isn’t good enough to be in the NHL? There are certainly several teams that would be willing to give him a shot to play in their bottom six, right now and there’s a chance that Ottawa would get something decent back. But the longer they wait, they risk getting even less.
I’m not sure what “asking for a lot” means, as a 1st round pick would constitute a lot in my opinion, but maybe they’re asking for a 1st plus another prospect. We just don’t know. But considering how little of an effect Lazar has had in the bottom six and the fact that Ottawa has only four picks in the upcoming draft, I would look to acquire a pick for him.
I could see a 2nd round pick happening, although Ottawa is probably asking for more at this point. I would not be surprised if there are a few teams that value him more than that, but I won’t get my hopes up for a great return, or for any return at all.
My sense is that Lazar will still be a Senator heading into the playoffs, just because they are afraid to prematurely give up on a player (especially a first round pick).
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to follow the rumours and see if Lazar is actually moved in the upcoming weeks before the March 1st Trade Deadline.