Just last month, Curtis Lazar was featured prominently in Frank Seravelli’s list of the ‘Top 20 players potentially available’ before the March 1st NHL Trade Deadline on TSN.ca.
His point production and struggles this season have been well-documented, but it’s not like he’s his numbers coming into this season were a sight to behold either. Since entering the league, his production relative to his ice time has been amongst the league’s worst for the forward position. (As an aside, I wrote about those struggles here.)
Lazar has pedigree and intangibles that teams love. He was a first round pick (17th overall, 2013) before captaining the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup championship and being named a WHL first-team All-Star for the 2013-14 season. At the 2015 World Junior Championship, he won gold and earned praise for his play in a challenging lineup spot: flanking Connor McDavid.
Even though there is a tendency to overrate players based on pedigree and intangibles, it was still a shock to see Lazar be ranked 12th in Seravelli’s rankings simply because he has failed to prove that he can play effectively in the NHL.
Fortunately, it always seems like some scout(s), general manager or head coach believes they’re clever enough to believe that they’re the ones who can get the most out of a failed prospect.
During last night’s ‘Insider Trading’ segment on TSN, Darren Dreger elaborated on the market for Lazar.
“Teams are calling Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and they’re asking about Curtis Lazar. He’s still on his entry-level contract. The Sens are interested in listening to the offers that will and are coming in, but they don’t want to give up on this young guy just yet. He’s having a tough year in Ottawa, so the asking price – if they’re willing to make that deal – is extremely high.”
Okay, so it really serves Ottawa’s purpose to leak this kind of information to the broadcast world’s talking heads in hopes that it can drum up interest and subsequently, improve the return, on an underwhelming asset.
Ideally the Senators would be able to land futures or package him as part of a larger trade that brings in a higher calibre player, but it’s hard to believe that teams would be willing to trade anything of consequence for Lazar, especially when you figure that it doesn’t make sense for these teams to give up something of value (unless it’s a rental) for a player any team would a hard time justifying protecting in the impending expansion draft. It simply doesn’t make sense to give up assets, especially futures, for a player that you could lose for nothing in a few months.
With that said however, you can’t blame the Senators for doing whatever they can to solicit interest and drive up the price — even if the interest isn’t what we’re led to believe it is.