No. 7: Curtis Lazar (Reader rank: 6, Last year: 5)
It was a bit of a rough year for Lazar. After finishing 2014-15 on an upswing, one of the line-mates he shared that swing with went to Tampa and the other moved up in the lineup without him.
Questions about if Lazar would be better served by some time in the AHL persist. There are a limited number of forward spots open out of camp, and several names that will be pushing to make the cut should make Lazar a little uncomfortable. He’s got a leg up with two years of NHL experience, but he is also waiver-exempt for another 17 regular season games. He’ll be breathing easier when that 17th game has come and gone.
On the upside, his “rough year” still saw his production increase with an extra 5 assists in an extra 9 games. Hardly a breakout year, but 20 points isn’t something to sneeze at. While that growth isn’t as much as many would have liked, he did also suffer from inconsistent line-mates for the second season in a row. He spent a little over a quarter of his ice time with Chris Neil, and that was his most common line-mate. There was no real run with consistent line-mates like when he saw his best stretch of play with Condra and Pageau the season before. Not being shuffled around (or having the lines shuffled around him) could go a long way to bringing that scoring up.