Senators lock up Lazar

The Ottawa Senators like what they’ve seen so far from Curtis Lazar.

While nursing a minor injury early in the week, Ottawa Senators rookie prospect Curtis Lazar was also sitting on a great big secret.

He had agreed in principle to his three-yeaer entry level contract with the Senators, waiting patiently for the Senators to make the announcement official. When the news was finally released Tuesday, Lazar was naturally ecstatic.

“It’s huge,” he said in a conference call Tuesday, a training camp off day for the Senators. “It’s a big thing getting that off my chest and just letting me play hockey. Regardless of where I end up playing, my focus is on being a better hockey player.”

Lazar, a centre/right winger selected 17th overall by the Senators at June’s NHL entry draft, scored 38 goals and 23 assists last season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. Lazar immediately impressed at the club’s rookie tournament in London earlier this month, but he suffered an undisclosed minor injury five minutes into his first scrimmage at the club’s main camp and has been off the ice since.

Lazar is hoping to be back on the ice Wednesday and if all goes well, could play Thursday when the Senators play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canadian Tire Centre.

At this point, it appears as if Lazar will eventually be headed back to Edmonton for another junior season (the pro contract only kicks in after Lazar has played 10 regular season games), considering that he’s essentially fighting with Mike Hoffman, Cory Conacher, Mark Stone, Shane Prince and Matt Puempel for a spot on the club’s second line. However, the 18-year-old is enthused about the fact the still want to see him in some pre-season game action.

“I’ve got a lot to prove and I’m still the youngest guy here and I’m really proud of that,” he said, thanking his parents, his siblings and his previous coaches for getting him to this point.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray was also excited to have Lazar in the fold.

“Obviously a player, a prospect, we think has a good upside,” Murray said in a statement released by the club Tuesday. “We’re trying to get our best players tied up and he is certainly one of the guys of the future for this organization. We’re very, very happy to get him signed at this point.”

FOR OTHERS, THE NHL DREAM WILL HAVE TO WAIT: As Lazar relishes his time in the big leagues, the Senators assigned four others back to their junior clubs Tuesday — goalies Francois Brassard (Quebec City) and Chris Driedger (Calgary), forward Vincent Dunn (Gatineau) and defenceman Ben Harpur (Guelph). There are 52 players remaining in camp.

 

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