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?