Calgary Flames: Curtis Lazar deserves to be in the lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 7: Curtis Lazar
CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 7: Curtis Lazar /

With Jaromir Jagr joining the lineup soon, another player on the Calgary Flames will have to sit out. It shouldn’t be Curtis Lazar.

After last season when the Calgary Flames made the bold trade-deadline day trade to acquire Curtis Lazar from the Ottawa Senators, it wasn’t exactly the most blockbuster-type trade. With the Sens last season before being traded, he had one assist in 33 games. After the trade, he had three points in four games.

So when the expansion came around, everyone somewhat assumed that Lazar would be protected. And he was. And then pre-season rolled around and Lazar wasn’t exactly the best. But nonetheless, the Flames signed him to a two-year contract with an AAV of $950,000. Somewhat of a low-risk, high-reward type of signing. But the risk can also include not giving a chance to a player like Mark Jankowski, who’s spending another year down in the AHL.

In the Flames home-opener against the Winnipeg Jets, their second game of the season, Lazar made the lineup. Jaromir Jagr wasn’t ready yet to play and the Flames decided to sit Freddie Hamilton out and put Lazar in the lineup. But they made the right decision of putting him on that third line alongside Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg (later, Versteeg and Johnny Gaudreau would end up switching lines). And Lazar earned the third star of the game (rightfully so).

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In case you’re not sure what that means, CF means shot-attempts for and CA means shot-attempts against while you were on the ice. All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

I’ve already mentioned this, but there was one particular play that I was very impressed by Lazar with. It wasn’t a crazy incredible play or anything, but it was still impressive and helped the Flames get their first lead of the game.

"Curtis Lazar also had a great night last night. Easily his best game in a Calgary Flames jersey. There was one particular play where he was down low by the Jets net with a great battle for the puck that eventually led to a goal by Johnny Gaudreau, with another assist from T.J. Brodie."

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Not only that, but Flames top scorer last year, Johnny Gaudreau, played incredibly with Lazar when joining the lineup with Lazar and Bennett. He had the best CF% when playing with Lazar. In 4:55 TOI of them two playing together, Johnny had CF of 11 and CA of just 2. Johnny that night in total, had 11:30 TOI and had CF of 15 and CA of 12. His CF% without Lazar was sub-30%.

Lazar also held his own against the Jets top defence unit.

Against Dustin Byfuglien:

  • TOI: 3:04
  • CF: 4
  • CA: 1

Against Josh Morrissey:

  • TOI: 2:22
  • CF: 5
  • CA: 2

He also managed to hold his own against one of the NHL’s most accurate shooters, Patrik Laine.

  • TOI: 3:27
  • CF: 8
  • CA: 2

I know advanced stats don’t tell everything, but watching the game, Lazar looked like a much different player than he looked during the preseason. He definitely deserves a spot in the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night over a player like Troy Brouwer.

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The Calgary Flames haven’t yet announced if Jaromir Jagr will be in the lineup, but if he is and Lazar is benched over a player like Brouwer or Tanner Glass, it’ll be a disappointment from the Flames coaching staff. I get that the Flames want size against a team like the Ducks and they can find that in Glass or Brouwer, but size means nothing when you can’t win hockey games.