Pre-season rankings had Curtis Lazar among the ten best prospects in the world among 2013 eligibles. Just a few months later, Lazar is barely in the top 10 in his own league. What happened?  

Curtis Lazar appeared on Bob McKenzie’s pre-season top prospects list (#9 overall) and the verbal from Craig Button was very strong:

  • Curtis has the puck skills of top scorers. He can beat you with a shot from 35 feet out or by skating past a defender given the opportunity. He has excellent offensive instincts and a great release on his shot. He is very good in traffic and he is a player who bears down in the scoring areas to get his opportunities. His skating is very good and his quickness may be better than his speed, but he’s a guy who can play at a high pace and tempo. He gets involved and will assert physically to win the puck and gain advantages. He is good all around player who finds a way to impact the game in many ways, even physically. He has excellent playing sense and reads and anticipates the play very well, which combined with his skill, makes him very hard to keep in check. Comparable Style: Patrick Sharp

This assessment came after a solid year on the WHL champion Oil Kings (63, 20-11-31) and a playoff run (20, 8-11-19) that projected Lazar into the stratosphere. His size (6.00, 189) and late spring surge caught the eyes of scouts everywhere, and many Oiler fans (this one included) suggested Lazar might end up being that big 2-way center that has been so elusive over the years.

Today, the Central Scouting Bureau released their preliminary rankings and Lazar stands 8th in the WHL! An amazing fall, if you assume McKenzie’s list and the CSB list are cousins (which they are not, more on that later).


Although Lazar’s totals so far this season (22, 8-6-14) are superior to the same period a year ago (22, 5-7-12) and he’s hitting everything in sight (whenever I’m watching him), there are differing opinions about Lazar’s 12-13 season. Some see the CSB’s rankings as being completely unfair, while others suggest that while the number is a surprise there are elements of Lazar’s game that have become stagnant.

Specifically, offense. Last spring’s goals have gone away and the line drives are finding leather. What’s more, the dizzying line combinations from the coaching staff have Lazar playing without Henrik Samuelsson. Guy Flaming was on Team 1260 this afternoon talking to Corey Graham about the chemistry between the two, and as it happens they started tonight’s game on a line with Stephane Legault.


In the summer of 1975, the National Hockey League hired Jack Button as director of the Central Scouting Service. It has been called “bureau” from time to time and you often see CSS or CSB in print, but it’s all the same organization.

The July 1975 Hockey News: “NHL president Clarence Campbell said Button will be located in Montreal. Button, who is 36, will be preoccupied with developing and administering the NHL’s central scouting computer operation for all 18 teams. He will hire 8 scouts to work with him.”  CSS’s role in the National Hockey League scouting season goes from important (early) to pretty much useless (the final rankings) as teams have made their own lists.

Central’s lists–preliminary or final–are not considered to be strong predictors of how the draft will go–that’s why God created Bob McKenzie.

So, while the Lazar slotting isn’t as big a deal as it might be if Bob McKenzie had him sliding, there’s probably a bit of worry over the young man and his develepment.


Beware of small sample sizes and trust that all will be revealed. That scouting report supplied by Craig Button married to McKenzie’s list tells me this young man will be gone by the middle of round one 2013.

  • 24% body fat

    6’0″ 198lbs is the big two way center we want. I’snt gagner (the so called smurf) 5’11” 195. If we insist on big, lets go big. 6’4″ 210.

    Wonder what it would have taken to steal couturier last year at 8th. A lot, but totally worth it.

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      Agreed, at 17 my son was 5’9 inches 185 now at 22 he is 6’1 200 lbs. Now the major problem here is he isn’t a WHL player so accorrding to the hockey geniouses here he doesn’t count. And my opinion doesn’t count because I am not a 13-27 year old hockey god.
      Lowetide I have to give you props for reminding people over and over that these are teenagers that haven’t finished growing into their bodies.

      Saying that it is a shame to see Lazar drop in the draft at what 20 games into the season, saying that he has another 42 games and hopefully a loooonnnng play-off run to the mem cup to raise his final slotting ala Rienhart, Sameulson and Moroz last draft.

      Speaking of Moroz is it me or is he seem do be fitting in with more points from the 2nd/3rd line and checking than with St. Croix as a big trigger man?

  • 24% body fat

    true but probably not bigger than 6’1″. And probably on an NHL diet he will be leaner but heavier so I would estimate 6’1″ 205.

    Hopefully we don’t go with him just because he is an oil king. If barkov is available we should get him. He wont but we should.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    I think the biggest question is regarding his shoulders and whether they need surgery or not before we can determine if he would be suited for the Oilers eh.

    • Truth

      The Oilers should perform double shoulder surgery immediately after the draft to all new draftees. Save us the dissapointment later.

      I think Lazar dropping is just as much a case of other draft eligible players increasing their draft stock while Lazar (and the Oil Kings) not dominating as expected. He is still a really good player but from the hype after last year I think we were all expecting more (from both the Oil Kings and Lazar). Plenty of time left in the season.

      When they cancel the season and figure out how the draft is going to work, I sure hope they do a different system than after the last lockout. How about strictly off of the standings last season. 5 balls for each team that finished in 30-26 place, 3 balls for 21-25, 2 balls for 11-20, and 1 ball for 1-10? Sounds good to me, let’s make it 4 in a row.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Gagner isn’t even 5’11 with skates on. Just because it says it on the website doesn’t mean it’s exactly true. Lazar however IS 6′ and would be the ideal 2nd line center for the Oilers moving forward. I hope he falls to wherever Edmonton is picking in the draft.

    • 24% body fat

      didnt know you personally measured gagner and lazar. Until I measure myself I will use the oilers, tsn, and all other sports sites.

      That said If you are true in saying that he is not, that dont forget Eberle who is the same height as him is not 5’11 either, Hall and Nuge who are visibly only two max three inches taller than them would not be 6’1″ either.

      You are also forgetting the Lazar’s size is listed on an oilers site as well so who is to say they arent exagerating his size.

      Im also not saying he wont grow. But a kid with that type of body mass to height ratio usually has done most of his growing, even at the age of 17. Can he put on more, yes. But not everyone puts on four inches and 25 pounds from 17-21.

  • Lazar would be a good pick at 10 to 15 but the Oilers will be picking around 5-8 spot, at that point the Oilers will be moving heaven and earth for Barkov.

    Turned 17 at the beginning of Sept. 6’2 210lbs and plays physically and is very good two way player, is dominating the finnish elite league, if he played in N.A would he would be undisputed #1.

    The next player on the Oilers radar will be Monahan, again 6’2 190 and is a very good two way player.

    These are the elite centers the Oilers should and will be going after, also get use to hearing more of Shinkaruk before Lazar name enters the conversation.

  • 24% body fat

    Although Bob’s rankings are very indicative of how the draft will go, I would suggest his preseason rankings are quite open to change. Take, for example, Nick Ebert, ranked 10th in last year’s preseason rankings by Mackenzie. He went dead last to the LA Kings. Now I don’t think Lazar will take a nose dive like that (and I don’t think Ebert should have either, really), but I think there is a real possibility, depending on the season he has, that he falls to the bottom of round 1 or a bit further. What he does in his predraft year is more important than what he has done up to this point, I would argue.

  • 24% body fat

    We had a chance at Samuelsson but could not put the pieces together to move up or down in the draft…….chalk that up to a very incompetent GM.

    Fast forward to nest year’s draft, I say forget the best player available, choose the biggest, meanest, most talented player remaining. Since Tamby has no clue how to make a trade with actual NHL players, maybe trading your top pick to land other picks is in his abilities?

    Give Stu the ability to pick whomever he wants that fits the role!

  • Lazar has good size might still grow an inch or two but why does the size even really matter?

    What about his game? I think we might actually be seeing the best he’s got.

    The game’s I’ve been to he’s seeing the best checkers, the best defensive grouping and tougher zone times and at time’s has looked lost.

    He maybe playing injuried but he looks a lot slower out there?

    Too bad I am really a fan of this kid.

  • B S

    Unless someone’s been pouring estrogen in the drinking water again, most males have their growth spurt between 13 and 16. They’ll usually add an inch or two before they’re 20 and gradually add weight from ages 18 to 30, the amount depending on their frame (eg. Hall will probably cap out at 210 lbs, Nuge at 190 lbs, even though they are nearly the same height).

    Lazar will probably break 200 lbs, but I wouldn’t expect him to grow more then 2 inches. Regarding Gagner, why do we need a big center? If he produces (50 points from a second line center is better than half the league by the way) isn’t that the point of hockey? This isn’t Slap Shot people!