With James Neal unavailable for Saturday morning’s game in Pittsburgh, the Calgary Flames have recalled a familiar face. The club has announced the recall of forward Curtis Lazar from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 15, 2019
The recall may just be temporary, depending on the precise nature of Neal’s injury, but it represents a return to the big league for Lazar. Originally selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Lazar struggled to progress much with the Ottawa Senators and later with the Flames. He was sent to the AHL at the beginning of this season to find his swagger following a 2017-18 season that saw him play 65 games and generate just 12 points.
Well, consider it found: Lazar has 16 goals and 36 points in 46 games for the Heat. He’s emerged as an offensive leader for the Baby Flames. You’d expect him to, given that he’s a 24-year-old with NHL experience, but he’s essentially done what the Flames hoped he would when they sent him to the minors.
The recall itself is an interesting development given the Flames have been stashing cap space as they approach the trade deadline – carrying 22 players instead of the maximum of 23 – and Lazar’s $950,000 AAV was the highest of all their potential forward recalls. Short-term move or not, making the more expensive recall is a statement regarding how well they think Lazar’s doing.
The Flames roster is now at 23 active bodies, including Neal.