Curtis Lazar hails from the beautiful Southern Interior city of Salmon Arm and grew up a huge Vancouver Canucks fan. To the point that during his introductory press conference on Wednesday, he brought up the fact that he had his mum going through storage looking to dig up the Canucks jerseys he had as a kid. He spends his summers in Kelowna.
“I grew up cheering for the Canucks, I have a huge soft spot for them and the organization, because my passion for the game was all generated from watching the Canucks throughout the years while I was growing up,” Lazar explained. “Then on the business side I look at the roster, I think there’s a great opportunity for a player like myself to help out the penalty kill, provide some much needed energy throughout the line-up, and then just the term as well (3 seasons at $1-million per), the team believes it me, this opportunity came about and I gladly jumped on it.”
Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin also mentioned the penalty kill and general improvement to the bottom-six forward group.
“Being 27-years-old and I think he’s settled in as a good, versatile bottom-six guy, great character, great PK, right-shot, so really improved our bottom-six here,” Allvin said.
Wait, a right-shot centre!!? Remember, the Vancouver Canucks went all of last season without one, limiting their options in certain face-off situations in particular. Lazar finished this past season with a 48.9% face-off winning percentage for the Boston Bruins. He can also play the wings.
His other statistics are exemplary in terms of setting an example. He led all of the Bruins with 186 hits and all of the forward group with 51 blocked shots. He drew six more penalty minutes than he took and he posted a very good takeaway to giveaway ratio, particularly in his own end. These numbers are conducive with his role as a shut-down forward for the most part, while his 44% Corsi rating (even strength shot for/shots against) also reflects the assignment and the competition he faced. He’d still like to improve on it.
“Win at all costs hockey, do what you have to do, sacrifice the body, call them the character stats, that’s what I pride myself on,” Lazar said, “I was able to do a good job with that in Boston which has led to being on Vancouver’s radar, so I don’t plan on changing the way I play at all. Obviously having some feedback from the coaches, whether it’s centre, wing, wherever it may be, I’m ready for the challenge.”
Lazar was the 17th-overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 1st-round of the 2013 NHL Draft. After two-and-a-half seasons in the nation’s capital, the 6-foot, 205-pound forward has since played for Calgary, Buffalo and Boston, where last season he had a career high eight goals.