Curtis Lazar is a somewhat polarizing player. The consensus rankings have him slotted in at 16th, but there really isn't much of a consensus. Both International Scouting Services and Craig Button updated theirs lists at the start of June, and they've got Lazar ranked 12th and 32nd respectively. There's been some talk of the Oilers being interested in Lazar, so for Oiler fans, it's pretty important to know which of those two rankings is closer to the truth.
A quick look at Lazar's comparables will give us a place to begin. In this case a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.48 and 0.59, an adjusted points per game rate between 0.74 and 0.90 (90% to 110% of Lazar's production), and was selected somewhere between 11th and 21st overall.
Well, that's not going to make a single Oiler fan feel comfortable. Setting Henrich aside, it's striking that not many players have had similar seasons to Lazar in the past. The main culprit is a strangely high goal-to-assist ratio. It turns out that 65% of Lazar's points are goals, the second-highest total of any forward drafted with one of the first thirty picks over the last thirty years. Here's a look at the top 15:
Steven Stamkos stands out like a sore thumb, but there are a few players there who would qualify as comparables if we loosened the boundaries a bit, and others who are just inferior players. So let's loosen the boundaries a little to get a fairer list. In this case, we'll say a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.46 and 0.62, an adjusted points per game rate between 0.70 and 0.94 (85% to 115% of Lazar's production), and was selected somewhere between 1st and 30th overall.
So that's a few more players, most of them with substantially better draft pedigree. How did this group do in the NHL? Not so good. In the chart below, I've listed each player's number of regular season games and his career points per game.
If we're looking for positives, it's encouraging that both Sandlak and Bell had NHL careers, and that Nicklas Jensen still has plenty of time to add to his totals. But if we're looking for honesty, I think it's clear that 12th overall is wildly optimistic and that the folks placing him in the last 20s or early 30s are probably more reasonable. His defensive play and work ethic are both regarded as major positives, and that should serve him well when he turns pro because there just doesn't seem to be enough offense. I think it's clear that Lazar has the worst group of comparables among the prospects I've profiled thus far. He'll be starting at the bottom of my list, and is likely to fall as more players are added.
Next up this afternoon: Anthony Mantha
My Draft List:
1 - Nathan MacKinnon (Comparables)
2 - Jonathan Drouin (Comparables)
3 - Seth Jones (Comparables)
4 - Aleksander Barkov (Comparables)
5 - Elias Lindholm (Comparables)
6 - Valeri Nichushkin (Comparables)
7 - Sean Monahan (Comparables)
8 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Comparables)
9 - Darnell Nurse (Comparables)
10 - Max Domi (Comparables)
11 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
12 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
13 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
14 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
15 - Adam Erne (Comparables)
16 - Curtis Lazar