There seems to be a widely shared opinion that the Ottawa Senators went for the safe pick with the No. 17th overall selection in the 2013 NHL draft — as much as you can call drafting an 18-year-old athlete “safe” — by taking WHL prospect Curtis Lazar.
The 5-11, 193-pound center provides a nice defensive presence from the forward spot and more substance than sizzle, and has proved an adept skater capable of maneuvering just fine on American pro ice.
However, there are still plenty of differing opinions on the Edmonton Oil Kings skater who notched nine goals in 22 games for the WHL finalist. Lazar ranked 12th among the 2013 NHL Draft class by ISS, but as low as 29th by Hockey Prospectus.
“He covers a lot of ice due to his tremendous work ethic, as he is always moving his feet,” Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus notes. “He can change gears quickly, and he picks up speed well. Despite being a tad undersized, he is a solid, physical player who is good on the forecheck. He is not afraid to drive the net, either. He is one of the best defensive forwards in this draft, and is very good in that area for a player his age.
“He takes checks very well, knows how to position himself in his own end, and does not tend to hurt his own team. … I see him as a player with above-average offensive skill, but one scout I talked to said that he is shy in displaying offensive creativity, and that he tends to rely on safe plays. He has solid hands, good instincts, and a very good shot, but his offensive progression will determine what kind of NHL player will be.”