Vernon’s Curtis Lazar is property of the Ottawa Senators.
The 18-year-old centre/right winger with the Western Hockey League Edmonton Oil Kings was chosen in the first round Sunday, 17th overall, in the NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey.
Lazar’s signature perma-smile widened when his name was called live on TSN. He was sitting with his parents, Dave and Karen Lazar, one row behind Max Domi of the London Knights, selected five picks earlier by the Phoenix Coyotes.
“I am so proud to be a member of the Senators organization,” Lazar told The Morning Star. “You can’t beat the atmosphere that playing in Canada has. To share this moment with my friends and family is very special.”
Vernon-based Ottawa scout George Fargher, who was very high on Lazar, helped present Lazar jersey No. 13 on the stage at the Prudential Centre. Lazar wore No. 13 with Team B.C. when they won gold in the 2011 Canada Winter Games. Lazar broke the tournament scoring record previously set by Steven Stamkos (12) and Sidney Crosby’s points mark (17) in six games.
Lazar was ranked 12th by International Scouting Services and No. 20 by Central Scouting. He has racked up 58 goals in two seasons with the Oil Kings.
“Curtis is a great character kid,” Fargher told The Morning Star, during a break after the first round. “He’s strong on the puck and competes hard. He’s a two-way player who can score and is a good skater. He compares to Ryan Callahan (Rangers) or Dustin Brown (Kings).”
Said Ray Ferraro on the TSN draft web site, of Lazar: ”A very versatile player has great competitive spirit. One scout told me he brings a lot more elements to the table than just his ability to score.”
Lazar was one of eight WHLers selected in the first round of the draft, marking the most WHL players chosen in the opening round of an NHL draft since 2009 when nine players were chosen.
Lazar, whose siblings, Jenna, Ryan and Cory, were also in New Jersey supporting him, heads to Ottawa Tuesday for a prospect camp. He is among 35 players invited to Canada’s National Junior Team summer development camp, set for Aug. 4-10 in Brossard, Que., and Lake Placid, N.Y.
A total of 13 of the players invited to attend the camp are from the WHL, including defencemen Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Griffin Reinhart of the Oil Kings, who were both members of Canada’s national junior team at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Lazar was the second overall choice in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
Meanwhile, former Vernon Viper centre Adam Tambellini of the BCHL champion Surrey Eagles was taken in the third round, 65th, by the New York Rangers.