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Edit: Drafted 17th Overall by the Ottawa Senators.
After a real breakthrough performance in the 2012 WHL Playoffs, Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings started the season as a near consensus top 10 pick amongst scouts and analysts. A slow start to the year, and failure to continue that great play has dropped Lazar down the rankings, as he’s consistently fallen in each of our three in-season rankings (November, February, and Today). However, recent strong play down the stretch and again in the WHL Playoffs has stemmed that fall somewhat and Lazar checks in at #20 in our final ranks.
Lazar and the Oil Kings are trying to win their second straight WHL Championships and are currently in the Eastern Conference finals playing the Battle of Alberta vs the Calgary Hitmen. It has been a hardfought series and will go the distance as game 7 will be played tomorrow night in Edmonton. The Oil Kings are hoping Lazar who has 7 goals in 14 playoff games, and had 38 goals this season, can step up with a big one to push them past their rival.
Lazar also has experience at the international level, playing for Canada in the 2012 Ivan Hlinka tournament and winning gold. He was also a member of Team Pacific at the 2012 U17 World Hockey Challenge.
Born Feb 2 1995 — Vernon, BC
Height 6.00 — Weight 189 — Shoots Right
February Rank 18
At his best Lazar has great quickness and outstanding acceleration. He is able to use his quick and powerful stride to go wide on defence, and if he manages to get a step on them he puts it into another gear and drives the net hard. Lazar also uses his ability to change gears quickly to confuse defenders and coupled with very good agility, he is extremely dangerous off the rush. Lazar has good balance on his skates and effectively fights through checks and protects the puck, making him dangerous off the cycle.
Lazar is a pure goal scorer. He has an outstanding wrist shot and pro-level release which he uses to beat goalies. He also has an excellent slap shot. Add to this arsenal, the soft hands to finish plays in close and the quick hand eye co-ordination to make delections and pounce on rebounds and you can see why he had so many goals this season. Lazar also plays a rugged game and is willing to hit on the forecheck or battle along the boards, or in the cycle game. He’s not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice, be it in the corners or in front of the net. He could stand to be a little bit stronger and add some upper body mass in order to continue to play his style in the pros, but this is a concern with many of the 18 year old prospects in this draft. Lazar also could be a bit more of a playmaker, as he does show good vision and passing skill at times, but doesn’t do it often enough.
Defensively, Lazar is amongst the best checking forwards in the draft. His two way game is excellent, as are his faceoff skills. He plays his rugged game in all three zones, and uses his quick feet to keep himself in position and be hard on the backcheck. He helps out defenders down low and contains his man to the outside well, cutting down the shooting and passing lanes. He has a quick stick and intercepts a lot of passes, and is willing to block shots for his team. This well developped defensive game will serve him well on his transition to pro hockey.
Stylistically Lazar reminds us of Ryan Kesler. He plays the effective two way game and is much more a goal scorer than a playmaker from the centre position. A very straight ahead north-south style, and the ability to work in the dirty areas of the rink are his hallmarks. As far as potential goes, Lazar, if he reaches his ceiling can be an effective #2 centre, capable of playing big minutes and matchups in the NHL.
Check back tomorrow for our number 21 prospect.
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