Top 25 Under 25, no. 7: Curtis Lazar
The marquee prospect jumps three places in this year's list, ranking seventh in 2014
The Senators and fans were optimistic about Curtis Lazar when the Edmonton Oil Kings forward was drafted 17th overall by Ottawa in 2013. Lauded for his character and smart play, Lazar was seen as a can't miss NHLer whose two-way game would fit nicely on a third or possible second line.
Here's what Peter had to say about Lazar last year:
Comparisons to Milan Lucic (ahem) are probably a little bit overstated, but Lazar is expected to become an NHL player when the time comes. He's already a very well-rounded player who's obviously got a good head on his shoulders, so he simply needs to continue progressing--there's no one part of his game that needs specific attention. He may have a hard time making the NHL as a first- or second-line centreman, but a move to the wing isn't out of the question.
Since last season's rankings, Lazar's prospects have soared. He was selected to play for Team Canada at last year's World Junior Championship for the first time and made an impression at the tournament. Canada finished fourth, but Lazar was a point-per-game player, scoring three goals and seven points in seven games.
He also exploded offensively for the Oil Kings in 2013-2014. In just 58 games, he scored 41 goals and added 35 assists, helping Edmonton to its second WHL title in three seasons. For his excellent season, he was named a WHL First Team All-Star. Lazar's strong play continued in the postseason. He was second in team scoring during the WHL playoffs, with 10 goals and 22 points in 21 games. He had two goals and four points in five Memorial Cup games, including an overtime thriller to send the Oil Kings to the final, where he added a Memorial Cup championship to his portfolio. Sens fans concerned about discipline will be happy to note that Lazar took home the George Parsons Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player at the Memorial Cup.
After such a strong season, the hype has been building and he's emerged as a true blue chipper and was named Ottawa's top prospect by NHL.com, ahead of Mark Stone, who's spent time in the big leagues. Now the talk isn't about Lazar's role with the Senators in a few seasons, but whether the future starts this October. With the management team trying to change the team's culture, Lazar, often noted for his intangibles such being a hardworking leader, should fit right in.