77Curtis Lazar Profile
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Curtis Lazar

When the Flames traded for Curtis Lazar during the 2017 NHL trade deadline, they were hoping to acquire a player who could be a long-term high-end asset for the team.

Those hopes have yet to come to pass.

2017-18 season summary

Lazar was a regular presence in the Flames’ lineup; however, he was also a healthy scratch 17 times throughout the season. When he did play, he didn’t get a lot of ice time; when he was on the ice, he didn’t do much with it.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
65 2 10 12 9:51 51.61 -3.39 50.72 .969

Lazar’s two goals came in February: the first in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers, and the second in a 4-3 win over the Predators. He tied with Brett Kulak (a defenceman playing his first full season in the NHL) and Spencer Foo (played four games) in goal scoring. Of Lazar’s 10 assists, seven were primary. His 12 points had him tied with Matt Stajan; Garnet Hathaway, who can score at the AHL level but not quite at the NHL level, scored 13 points throughout the year. Among regulars, the only players Lazar outscored were Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone, and Kulak: three defencemen not known for their offence.

He did only shoot at 3.1% throughout the year, down from his career average of 5.7%, but that would have resulted in just two extra goals.

In Lazar’s defence, he didn’t exactly average a lot of ice time per game, getting the fewest minutes out of all regulars. On the flip side, who was he supposed to take minutes from? Hathaway, perhaps – Lazar probably should have gotten a shot on the third line when it became clear the alternative wasn’t exactly working out – and one could make a case for taking over Stajan’s minutes, but that’s about it. Not exactly inspiring competition. He didn’t receive anything meaningful in the way of powerplay ice time, and but his 27:59 on the penalty kill – 13th on the team – indicated a willingness to experiment in that field, at least.

Lazar’s most common linemate, by far, was Stajan: the two played almost 330 5v5 minutes together. After that, you have to go down to 166:19 5v5 minutes alongside Troy Brouwer, and then 126:42 with Sam Bennett. None of them worked particularly well together; Lazar was better away from all three of them, though Bennett and Brouwer were much better away from Lazar than he was from them (Bennett especially, but he was afforded much higher quality linemates).

Ultimately, Lazar was an uninspiring depth player on a team filled with uninspiring depth players. It’s possible he could have been tapped to replace Stajan as the fourth line centre, but then the Flames made another deal with Ottawa for Nick Shore, who seems to be better suited for the role as a regular.

Compared to last season

Prior to this season, Lazar scored 39 points in 180 games through his career: a rate of roughly .22 points per game. This past season, he scored at a rate of .18 points per game. There isn’t much difference there.

Yes, Lazar had a rough 2016-17, likely largely in part due to coming down with mono just before the season started. But he didn’t have mono through his first two seasons, when his career high was still just 20 points in 76 games: better, but still not something to get particularly excited about, and certainly not now that we’re two years removed from that year.

Lazar’s underlyings improved – his -3.39 5v5 CF% rel this past season is much better than the -10.09% he carried through 33 games with Ottawa in 2016-17, or the -6.10% he posted during his 20-point season – but a -3.39% is still pretty bad. The optimist could point to that resurgence and say he’s clearly improving and there’s plenty of hope for him yet at just 23 years old; the pessimist could point to the numbers over the course of his entire career to date and conclude that it’s just not going to work out for him as an NHL player.

The truth is probably closer to the pessimist’s side: there’s hope yet for Lazar to pick up the pace as a depth player, but whether Ottawa ruined him by rushing him into the NHL or this was simply always who he was meant to be, there simply isn’t much there to get excited about.

What about next season?

Lazar is still under contract for one more season with the Flames at a $950,000 cap hit. Worst case scenario, he’s at least relatively cheap depth for the team: someone who can sub in now and then, but probably isn’t actually going to contribute much offensively or defensively.

The Flames need to increase their scoring output next season, particularly among their forward ranks, and there’s nothing in Lazar’s professional career to indicate he’ll be the answer. Maybe he could get a whirl with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, but what good is it if the hands can’t keep up with the skates? It’s difficult to see him outperforming Micheal Ferland, and Ferland wasn’t the optimal solution to play on the first line to begin with.

The Flames’ interest in picking up Lazar was perplexing from the very beginning. He couldn’t draw into the lineup when he was first acquired, hinting that – as someone still relatively young – the eye for him was trained on the future. You have to go back to his junior years to find any real hope for that, and by that point, you’re probably reaching.

Here’s to Lazar finding it within him to prove the Flames right for picking him up, but at a certain point, it’s probably best to start listening to what the numbers are saying.


#5 – Mark Giordano #7 – TJ Brodie
#8 – Chris Stewart #10 – Kris Versteeg
#11 – Mikael Backlund #13 – Johnny Gaudreau
#15 – Tanner Glass #18 – Matt Stajan
#19 – Matthew Tkachuk

 

  • kirby

    This was a bit more evaluation than we needed. For anyone who didn’t read the entire article, i’ll sum up the evaluation of Curtis Lazar right here:

    “Can we have the 2nd rd pick back?”

    Another wasted asset.

    There, done. On to the next!

  • Who is Alberta’s team?

    Curtis Lazar has 16 points, in his last 3 nhl seasons …… someone explain to me how this is possible? Would any other team in the nhl keep a player with numbers like that around? So he doesn’t score, he doesn’t create, he doesn’t fight, hit or play rough. Treliving not only gave up a 2nd for this guy but he RE SIGNED him on top of it!!!!

  • buts

    The acquisition of Lazar, Brouwer, Bartkowski, Raymond, Shinkaruk and coachs plus many others has me very worried about Brad Trelivings ability to assess talent and build a competitive team.

    • buts

      He acquires players that have reasonable skill but the common element missing is the compete and grit levels. Look at the present roster and I can easily name at least 5 players with high skill and low compete levels. It’s the reason we have no identity and its all on BT.

      • buts

        GG is a perfect example of low compete behind the bench. His body language, emotional level on TV looked the same as a mascots….actually less than. That’s not to say he isn’t competitive, but it sure looked like he didn’t give a crap…..and a lot of the games, especially at home the team mirrored that.

      • cberg

        I’m starting to feel BT is a victim of his own success. His signings have been great, but is his time with the bankrupt Arizona franchise tainted his thinking that he’s got to find gems in the rough and search for home runs, a poverty mentality instead fo just building strength throughout? On a side note, what would Gaudreau be worth today if he was a UFA? Let’s see, pretty solid top 10 NHL scorer, clearly the major driving force for the whole team, good guy…. more than Tavares, right? Do we honestly believe BT would sign him for mega-bucks?

    • BendingCorners

      Gaudreau-Monahan-Coyle // Tkachuk-Jankowski-Gallagher // Ferland-Backlund-Lazar // Mangiapane-Bennett-Foo. Use Lazar, Bennett, Ferland, Backlund on the PK, the other 8 on the PP.
      Trade Frolik for Coyle and a pick; Brodie for Gallagher. Let Stone, Kylington and Andersson rotate through the bottom pair. And sign Khudobin as backup – Rittich and Gillies can be called up when Smith is hurt. For depth, pick up Ho-Sang for cash and park him in Stockton. Waive Hathaway and Brouwer to Stockton and PTO Versteeg for #13; no #14 to start.

    • Chucky

      Watching Lazar play it is obvious that he has speed and plays well defensively. He does not have a lot of ability when it comes to putting a puck past an NHL goaltender.
      He would be a good fit on a shutdown line with Backlund and Frolik. Then he could be second PK unit with Jankowski. He will get a few break aways and hit the goalie like Byron did but over all it would give a very sound shutdown line and an effective PK.
      The added benefit is to put Byng on a scoring line.

  • everton fc

    Lazar is, at best, a 4th line mucker. His speed and positioning may be good enough to have him be a special teams option. I personally think Hathaway gives more offence, better special teams play on the PK, and has some grit we need. Hathaway can also draw penalties.

    Lazar is either one of the two extra forwards, or he finds a slightly better role for the last year of his contract, if he finally begins to show he can actually score goals. If not, he’ll be playing overseas by the time he’s 25.

    • cberg

      Yes, Hathaway is clearly better. Lazar should get another shot this Fall but hopefully if he doesn’t show more he’ll get waived and we’ll be looking to upgrade through the farm.

  • redwhiteblack

    Lazar is not good enough. The Flames with him are not good enough. It is hard to stick in this league. He goes away. He is like the vast majority of NHL prospects. Just not good enough in the end .

  • Jobu

    If hes not going to play regular minutes in the lineup then put him on waivers (try to deal him first of course – for anything), and have him play in the AHL. Perhaps he can get his confidence back playing in the league he he should have been playing in 3(?) years ago.

  • Raffydog

    Yet another fail for Treliving. When all these evaluation articles are finished I’m hoping people will start to realize that Treliving is a clown with no clue how to build a winning team.

    • kirby

      Yeah looking at all the trades we’ve made in the last few years…..it’s hard to have much faith in him right now, that’s for sure. Given up so many draft picks for guys who, outside of Dougie Hamilton, have contributed next to nothing. Adding up everything we’ve given away and looking at the returns we got from the players acquired, and looking at what we need to do going forward from here and the limited assets we have to make anything happen, he managed us into a hole and we got nothing to show from it other than underachievement and disappointment. I wouldn’t have been sad at all if he was let go this offseason.

          • kirby

            Yet when i suggested the possibility of promoting Craig Conroy to GM before someone else gives him the opportunity, i’m told i’m an idiot because he isn’t proven and has no lead role experience. Chiarelli is a perfect example of what i’m talking about though. He has “experience” and a ring, Don Sweeney who replaced him in Boston had none. Look what Sweeney has done with that team, and look what the “proven experienced winner” has done with the Oilers. Look at Detroit with Ken Holland since Yzerman left for the lead role in Tampa. Think they Wings would go back in time and promote Yzerman instead of letting him leave? I GUARANTEE they regret that every day.

            Looking at what years of Treliving has been brought us, and knowing what a cerebral intelligent guy Conroy is and the great relationships he’s established around the league, i think we’d be stupid not to give him his chance here.

        • kirby

          So that’s our standard? Slight marginal if-you-squint-hard-enough-you’ll-see-it improvement over a 4-5 year span? To almost kinda be a team that can maybe compete for a Wild Card spot if we’re lucky? This is what we’re striving for?

          Man, i’m SO SICK of being the franchise with this mentality. Where having “nice guys” and looking good on paper and finding moral victories and being happy with a 5 year plan to take a baby step is considered success.

          So to answer your question, yeah we’re technically “better”, but we aren’t good. We’ve wasted opportunities, we’ve wasted assets, we have no team identity, no team toughness, no real leadership, no distinct plan for where we’re going or how we’re getting there. If you’re happy with this and call it “improvement” from our last 10-12 years of underachievement and endless tire spinning, then you’re just enabling this culture of mediocrity this ownership/management group is being allowed to sustain.

    • Derzie

      Raffy normally stirs the pot but if you’re in the camp of trashing him for calling out Treliving, you’re wrong and in denial. Treliving’s bad moves are outweighing his good ones. Peters is the latest, and probably last, example

  • freethe flames

    Lazar and Hathaway are interchangeable although their games are different; do you really need to have both of them on your team. At best both are 4th liners who can PK. If you want to be competitive this is another area that could be upgraded.

    • JMK

      An abundance of 4th liners in the ranks. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see either or both gone, although the optimist in me says keep Lazar around for this year as you are not going to get much for him anyway.

      • freethe flames

        Lazar is currently under contract and Hathaway is not. Would it be a possibility to package Brodie/Lazar/Fox to get a top 6 forward and a draft pick?

        • cberg

          Not sure why people are so willing to dump Fox, who has done nothing but show he may end up a very good verging on elite NHL D in a couple years. Fear of him signing is not an excuse.

          • Baalzamon

            I think it’s mostly that people want a winger and they have more of a stomach for trading Fox than Andersson. Why not Valimaki/Kylington? Well aside from Kylington probably having trade value lower than his actual value, the Flames’ LD situation is far more volatile than their RD situation with Giordano aging and Brodie seemingly floundering.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Lazar was destroyed in Ottawa by bad coaching and mono. Bad coaching has also held him back in Calgary as Gully et al never could figure where Lazar slotted in. On any given night he could be a 1st liner or a 4th liner depending on which way the wind blew through the ears of the whimsical Gully.

      • cjc

        Plenty of mid-first rounders go straight from junior to the NHL after their draft +1 year without playing a day in the AHL. That’s not why Lazar has had poor results.

    • cjc

      If only he just had one more year with a good coach and good linemates, or he hadn’t been rushed to the NHL…

      At what point does a player have to rise above the circumstances he is placed in? If Lazar were more than a borderline NHLer, then that should have shown 245 games into his NHL career. People who think he is second or third line material need to think about the prospects he is blocking.

  • Flamethrower

    The Flames have quite a number of players that need to be moved on. There are more than a few players on the farm team that need a real shot at making the big club. Languishing in the AHL learning to be a pro and what it takes is one thing but being pigheaded by management is another. Especially with the direction of younger faster in the NHL. New blood is must for this club to change its culture and build an identity. So Tre the only thing to fear is fear itself. Trade, buyout, or put on waivers I don’t really care and won’t name names because we all know who has to go!

    • freethe flames

      Addition by subtraction. Then the combination of the right FA(even short term), the right trade(longer term) and proper usage if development and all of a sudden the team is more competitive.

    • freethe flames

      If you don’t add 2/3 more good players this off season then it won’t happen. Also can you afford to wait 20 games to see if he has game? Wins in the fall matter if the goal is the playoffs. Last year BT got burnt b/c he believed the forwards in the organization were good enough and the results were limited secondary scoring. How much has changed? Gone or should be gone are Stajan, Versteeg, and Glass; who has replaced them; Shore. BT can’t wait and hope that Mangiapne, Foo and the kids are good enough. He can upgrade some positions by FA and through trades but until he does something all we can do is speculate.

    • cjc

      Not anxious at all. I’d rather see Mangiapane, Dube or even Foo, Shinkaruk or Klimchuk get that shot. Lazar has had ample time to prove he deserves to play higher in the lineup and he hasn’t.

  • WildfireOne

    Every time I watch him play, I want to see what made him a 1st round pick in the NHL.

    Watching him skate gives me hope… but then that hope just dies when I see what he does with the puck.

    • Off the wall

      Haha, love the new moniker.
      Actually, I’ve been enjoying your posts lately.

      I honestly wish for success for Lazar, I really like his game, other than the lack of scoring touch. You are pushing the envelope with that statement.

      But I like your optimism.
      You get a cheer, just for that alone..

        • Bringthetrashes 2.0

          Cyber bullies…. Settle down there snowflake. Everytime you shed a tear
          Yeah, I’m still here
          I’m the air that you’re breathing
          The heart that is beating
          The pain that you’re feeling
          The love that fills your soul.

        • Off the wall

          Oh boy, and I thought you grew up a bit.

          Not sure why my compliment became a defensive mechanism for you?

          If indeed you believe I’m EITHER of those things, then you should seek professional help.

          This will be my last reply to you..

  • Nighteyes

    Contrary to popular opinion, I actually don’t hate Lazar. Def not worth a second rounder, but I really like his compete level and speed, he’s young too. I have no problem with him on the fourth line/penalty kill. He seems to have an aptitude for defensive play, his positioning is good and you really see him make huge gaffes/giveways. Just has zero finish. It’s not like we want any of our prospects or young players with high ceilings festering on the fourth line–a young, energetic and fast fourth line that plays hard is all we need. Shore/Lazar/Hathaway/..Brouwer i guess?

  • Off the wall

    Love Lazar’s great smile. The kid has wheels.
    Remember Paul Ranheim? He used to drive me bonkers with his speed, but his hands were stone in close.

    Ranheim managed a decent career as an NHL’ER, so there’s that.

    I’m not sure if Lazar is a good comparison, but I like him nonetheless. He’s really good defensively.

    I seem to remember Skylardog saying he was tops among PK.
    Maybe 4th line, Pk specialist?

    I hope Lazar can do something this coming season. I don’t know why, but I really like this kid!

    • Kevin R

      He also reminds me of Lombardi as well. You need players like this on every team, cant have everyone scoring 30 goals in a cap league. I think Lazar gets a chance come fall, but he has to earn it.

    • Fan since Atlanta

      Bingo! Vegas is proof that most teams have undervalued or used players poorly. Let him play where he needs to play to succeed. Would look good with Backlund and Frolik.