39Curtis Lazar Profile
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

WWYD Wednesday: What to do With Curtis Lazar?

The newest Calgary Flame is in a strange position. He was acquired at the deadline, but is more of a long-term reclamation project. His new team is in the midst of its best winning streak of the season and there’s no obvious place to slot him in the lineup.

So when does Curtis Lazar get into a game? And where does he land on the depth chart?

The Flames are healthy and happy as things stand. They’re the hottest team in the NHL and have no significant injuries. It’s sensible that Glen Gulutzan wouldn’t want to disrupt things at this time.

The other issue, of course, is that Lazar isn’t a clear upgrade on anyone on the Flames’ active roster. Prior to coming to Calgary, Lazar averaged just eight minutes per night in Ottawa, scoring a single second assist in 33 games played. He also got pummelled every night in terms of scoring chances and shots.

Lazar can play both center and right wing, so the guys he would either replace or displace right now are Matt Stajan, Alex Chiasson, Troy Brouwer, or Sam Bennett. So what are the options?

  • Scratch Stajan and give Lazar a spin as a fourth line C (No thanks)
  • Scratch Chiasson and put Lazar on Stajan’s wing (Meh)
  • Scratch Chiasson, bump Brouwer down to the fourth line and put Lazar on Bennett’s wing (Risky)
  • Give Lazar a chance as third line C, bumping Bennett to LW (Nope)
  • Elevate Stajan, bump Bennett to LW, scratch Chiasson, bump Versteeg to RW, move Brouwer to the fourth line, give Lazar a chance as fourth line C (This is getting complicated)

The best option right now would seem to be scratching Chiasson in favour of Lazar, although Chiasson has had a much better season so far. Bouma is probably the guy closest to being a 13th forward on this team currently, but he plays LW. Unless the coaching staff is confident Lazar can play his off wing, it doesn’t make sense to substitute him in for Bouma.

No easy options. In reality, it will likely be an injury or two that will force Lazar into the lineup.

However, let’s assume the Flames are healthy for the rest of the season. What would you do with Curtis Lazar?

  • Deef

    Sit him until the team has back to back blowout losses. By then, the Flames will likely have a scapegoat to substitute, Lazar will have practiced enough with the team to hopefully have a good feel for the system, and at minimum, with sheltered minutes, he should hopefully not have a negative impact to the club.

  • King Quong

    Only way I want him in the line up is if he’s getting scoring minutes with some quality linemates be that rw with Johnny and Monahan ( I’d rather keep Ferland there) or on a line with Bennett whether that’s him playing rw with Bennett at c or with him playing centre and Bennett at LW, this kid needs some confidence and success to give him some traction again as a prospect. Until one of those spots open up I’d keep him practicing with the big club learning the system and developing a relationship with the boys.

    • cjc

      FWIW, Chiasson’s penalty differential is 0, that is 7th on the team this year, 3rd among regulars. It’s pretty sad that Gaudreau and Monahan are the only positive players in this department. Even Tkachuk has entered negative territory, he was solidly positive in penalty differential earlier this year.

  • cjc

    Yep, there is no point playing Lazar until the playoffs are a lock. He will probably get a couple of games near season’s end in order to rest guys for the playoffs.

    • Backburner

      Playoffs won’t be a lock anytime soon unfortunately. You don’t want to mess with the line up too much, especially if the streak continues.. but I say Saturday against the Jets would be a good game to throw him in.

  • FL@med

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say this again.. Flames are most likely gonna put him down the middle as 3C.. This isn’t what I want, it’s what’s going to happen.. He wanted out of Ottawa for two reasons.. 1. Lack of minutes and 2. He wanted to play centre.. BT said both his wishes will be fulfilled….

    • al rain

      I don’t think Lazar has had any say in getting out of Ottawa or getting into Calgary, or what position or how much playing time he’s going to get. I suspect he’ll be happy to be able to play any NHL hockey on a team that hasn’t given up on him.

  • class1div1

    Press box for the remainder of season.BT himself, referred to him as a long term project. He’d be in Stockton now if it was possible. We’ll have to wait till next year to see where he slots in with the other prospects.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      I agree with this. Caveat is that theres an injury to one of the LW or bottom two Centres.

      This last part of the season is high stakes for trying him out. Lazar is an unknown entity to us. At least we know what Chaisson or Stajan can do. I look forward to seeing if this kid can get turned around like Ferland, but now might not be the time. Counter point could be maybe he gets played as the wrecking ball for some games against heavier teams.

  • DKramer

    I would keep things the way they are under the winning stops. Then if there’s anyway possible to substitute him in for bouma and have someone else play LW while Lazar plays RW that would be ideal. A lot of people in the comments don’t like Lazar but we haven’t even seen him play under our coaching staff. Just give the kid a shot with some reasonable minutes and maybe Tre sees something we don’t. If he doesn’t have a strong game but bouma back in. But if he brings energy and can find his old self again then I think it’s an upgrade

  • FlameAUT

    That’s the point when this trade makes no sense, again. A 2nd rounder for a player you are afraid to put in your line up, even as a 4th liner. And his not that young anymore. Sure, it could turn out great. But the risk would have been to high at first. Kinda looks stupid if we have to retain him (and we have to) and he’s not able to crack the line up next year. It’s a gamble I guess…

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    Option number 3… “Risky” maybe, but you can’t tell me that he is likely to be worse than Brouwer has been… I mean Brouwer gets his head caved in every night and drags EVERY one he plays with down to boot… at least Lazar might improve, Brouwer is what he is…

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I think the team is better served at this stage in the season helping Brouwer get his confidence. I am looking forward to seeing Lazar in the line up but quite frankly there are a couple players that deserve to get a shot before Lazar….namely Janko.

      I would love to see the team lock down a playoff spot so they could reward some players from Stockton but since the team is close to pushing for a division spot this will likely go right down to the end.and we likely won’t see any call ups.

  • everton fc

    I bet, barring injury, Lazar doesn’t see much ice time. This will keep him from being seen as valuable come the expansion draft. Or, perhaps GG pulls a Wideman on Brouwer and sits him for Lazar for a game. Is it really that risky? I don’t think so – in fact, perhaps it lights a fire under Brouwer so he realizes, just because he’s got a high salary, he isn’t exempt from watching a game (or two) in the press box.

    The latter, I should add, is highly unlikely…

    • Stu Cazz

      Embarrassing a veteran player and leader like Brouwer is risky. The room chemistry is now is working. The team is winning..The players are listening….no thanks! Lazar sits and learns and will eventually get his chance to play.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    Once the winning streak end (if it does), why not insert Lazar as the 4th line center, scratch Bouma and move Stajan to the wing. Bouma is pretty one-dimensional these days, and that usually end up as a penalty for a hit. You can alternate Stajan and Lazar on face-offs if he struggles.

    I think that Lazar offers more speed than Bouma does. Could be wrong, but I’m not the biggest Bouma fan lately.

  • Locker Room Talk

    I think it’ll work itself out. Obviously you don’t mess with things right now, while we’re winning, but I’m sure an opportunity will arise at some point. I think the plan with Lazar was patience anyway, I don’t get the sense that there is a particular urgency to get him into the lineup.

  • McRib

    This is the exact reason why this deal should never have been done. Lazar is a long term project who is no longer waiver exempt (not to mention fact we have higher upside prospects on the farm already (Jankowski, Klimchuk, Mangiapane, etc). Its honesty Drew Shore 2.0, but at least Shore was never a highly visible former first rounder (Lazar should never have even been a second rounder, offensive totals draft year projected him as a 3-4th rounder), at least we knew Drew Shore would have a chance of passing waivers. Drew Shore had better numbers in NCAA and AHL.

    • reidja

      2013 Rankings
      FC: 17th
      ISS: 12
      McKeen’s: 12

      In what universe should Lazar have not been drafted in the first round? You’d rather have Shore because he would pass through waivers?… ??? I guess you know more than all the scouts and GMs…

  • Flamethrower

    So many critical comments. This is a 22 year old and with the patience and system that fits his style of play he will flourish. Ottawa’s system and coachs put way to much pressure on this young player as a rookie, lets hope for Calgarys sake they didn’t ruin him. Maybe he will surprise a lot of naysayers with a fresh start.

  • Tanner

    Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik///Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland///Versteeg – Bennett – Brouwer///Stajan – Lazar – Chiasson

    This seems to me to be the best option. The major problem with it is that center is not the best position to put a young, struggling forward at if you want to boost his confidence.

  • SENSATIONAL

    Hi all !
    I am hoping you guys don’t hate on Curtis Lazar too much. I think Ottawa has lost ways with conditioning coaches. They really messed up with this kid. We would watch him on the ice night after night doing nothing. Can’t blame the player. You have to blame to coaching staff. I am pretty confident this is going to come back and bite us in the you know where. I am positive this kid is going to kill it with the right conditioning. Good luck Calgary ! I’m really liking the way you guys are looking these days. See you in the cup finals one day ? Maybe ?