Curtis Lazar is the newest forward to join the Stockton Heat. The centerman has been fully committed to this process and his role with the Heat since arriving to Stockton on October 5th. A refreshing, and somewhat impressive, mindset for a former first round pick that has played in 245 NHL games all before his age 24 season.
“I got put on waivers with Calgary. I think it was a mutual decision,” said Lazar. I figured enough was enough and I was always that 12th, 13th forward in the NHL where I would play every third or fourth game and it was just tough to find a groove. To come down here and get the ice time I have, I am already finding my game.”
Finding his game has not taken long. Lazar has goals in back to back games for Stockton and is playing in all situations for the Heat, serving as a reliable, talented presence on one of Stockton’s top lines. Both of Lazar’s goals have come on the power play, an area where Lazar’s play below the dots has helped Stockton get some momentum up a man.
Lazar is playing in his first AHL games since, skating in 13 games in the fall of 2016 for the Binghamton Senators.
“I think he can contribute in a big way down here,” said Heat Head Coach, Cail MacLean. “Curtis is a player that is a good 200-foot player that can handle both ends of the rink and all situations. At the same time, he is someone who has had a lot of offense in his past, and hasn’t had the opportunity to create as much offense in the last few years.”
Lazar’s impact has been contagious on and off the ice in less than two weeks in California. He is already starting to work some younger guys during practice and is quickly becoming a vocal leader in the Heat dressing room. MacLean and his staff wasted no time supporting Lazar, as #20 had an “A” on his sweater on Saturday night in just his third game with the Heat.
“He has approached this situation with real high character. He is fully involved down here and that is something that is a really good lesson for all of our guys to see a guy that has been up in the NHL for a while and now he is in the American Hockey League and he is not one foot in, one foot out. He is right in it and making the most of his opportunity and enjoying the process.”
With impressive forward depth in Calgary, it is unclear how long Lazar will be in Stockton, but it seems that Lazar is just focused on getting his game back and helping the team develop and win hockey games with the Heat.
“It is a easy to group to get along with,” said Lazar. We are pretty young. It makes for a lot of fun. If we keep going the same way, I like where we are at.”