Player Report Card: Curtis Lazar
It was fine.
Total Season Stats: 38 GP | 5 G | 5 A | 10 PTS
Contract Status: UFA
Buffalo forward Curtis Lazar played on a $700,000 contract for the 2019-20 season. He and Victor Olofsson hold the distinguished honor of being the lowest paid players on the team.
Using that as a metric, and comparing the two, Lazar had a terrible season. Olofsson spent much of his playing time in the conversation for the Calder as rookie of the year. Lazar, on the other hand, has failed to spend more than a couple of seasons in the NHL full time.
Thankfully, we won’t hold Lazar to the same standard we might hold Olofsson. For a player that has spent as much time in the AHL as he has in the NHL over his six seasons, Lazar had a fine season. Not like dog-in-a-flaming-house fine, but actually fine.
In 38 games, he averaged 11:51 a night - fourth minutes, essentially. He was on the worst line of one of the worst teams in the league, which tracks with the rest of his career. He managed five goals and five assists - again, fine.
Defensively, Lazar didn’t have the greatest year. For a player that was trusted to start in the defensive zone over 58% of the time, the team did not play well in those instances. The Sabres had an even strength save percentage of only .880, which is below that of both goaltenders. It’s not as though the team did a great job in the defensive zone as a whole, so…
Here’s what he did well: for a fourth line player, he still managed to generate nearly one shot on goal per game (33 shots in 38 games.) When he did shoot, he did so with an elite accuracy; he was top-five on the team in shooting percentage with 15.2 percent. That includes a limited data point from Dominick Kahun. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Olofsson were the only other Sabres ahead of Lazar.
Because of a lack of overall team success in the last decade, we have gotten pretty good at managing expectations. It’s difficult to say what the actual expectations would be for a forward that played a third of his games in Rochester this year, but generating shots and burying them with a fairly high frequency is probably a good marker. He gets a good grade for that, but a poor one for defense, and so, we have an average mark for a player that had an average expectation. He was fine, and this C reflects that.
Season Grade: C