The New Jersey Devils announced they have acquired bottom six forward by making the Curtis Lazar trade with the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks received a 2024 fourth round pick in return via Darren Dreger. Lazar is in the first year of his three-year deal, with a $1,000,000 cap hit.
Return. 4th round pick in 24 https://t.co/uJV4jnGQ8O
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 3, 2023
Devils Make Curtis Lazar Trade With Canucks
In 45 games with Vancouver this year, Lazar has recorded three goals and five points. He’s spent the majority of the season alongside Nils Aman and Dakota Joshua on the 4th line. Lazar is struggling to shoot this year, 3 goals on 6.25 ixG (individual expected goals) in all situations. Furthermore, it’s tough to expect solid production when his line mates aren’t very talented.
Lazar plays a very solid two-way game. His teams xGA (expected goals against) rates have always improved with him on the ice as opposed to on the bench. For instance, when playing for Boston in 2022, Lazar’s on-ice xGA was 24% better than the league average that year. (1.98 xGA). Without Lazar, the Bruins defended 18% better than league average (2.13 xGA).
The point of those numbers is to prove Lazar can make a good team better. He’s been very successful on the breakout on a struggling Vancouver team (A3Z micro stats). His puck retrievals are leading to zone exits, and he’s exiting the zone with possession rather than clearing it to the other team in the neutral zone.
Additionally, Lazar has potential when entering the zone. He’s in the 85th percentile of zone entries leading to scoring chances per hour (A3z microstats). He’s entering the zone with possession and making plays as a fourth liner. While his role is unclear, combine this with Michael McLeod and Miles Wood speed, and the Devils could be even more dangerous in transition.
Impact of the Curtis Lazar Trade
Even if his transition potential doesn’t work out, Lazar is great on the forecheck. He’s in the 99th percentile of forecheck pressures per hour (A3z microstats). Lazar will be paired with huge bodies on the Devils fourth line, so they could work a cycle game. In addition, he’s an experienced penalty killer if New Jersey needs.
Lazar definitely deserves a spot in the Devils lineup for their first playoff run since 2018. Moreover, he’s a former first round draft pick that can add skill to a team’s fourth line. Besides, he’s a multi-year option for the franchise This is a really underrated pickup for New Jersey.
Main photo by: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports