The Ottawa Senators have established themselves at being one of the top teams in the National Hockey League at drafting and developing talent down in Binghamton.
Despite some rumblings among the French media that the Senators were interested in Anthony Mantha of the Val-d'Or Foreurs, the Senators returned to the WHL well with their 17th overall selection, taking Curtis Lazar from the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Senators went with Jared Cowen from the WHL at 9th overall in 2009.
Lazar, a skilled forward from a perennial Western Hockey League contender, has played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons with long playoff runs, and he established himself as a key player on one of the CHL's top teams as a 17-year-old in the 2013 season. It's impressive for junior aged players to do that on top teams like the Oil Kings, but prospects in the 2013 class like Seth Jones, Bo Horvat and Max Domi have seemingly bucked the trend, not to mention the No. 1 and No. 3 picks Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. It's hard to project these players as NHLers, but one of the best things that could have happened for Lazar's development is being drafted into a system that slowly and carefully brings prospects through the system.
Mika Zibanejad, taken at No. 6 in 2011, became a full-time NHLer in 2013, as did No. 39 in 2009 Jakob Silfverberg.
Lazar is going to slip through the cracks in the headlines tomorrow since Canadian teams have been fairly active on draft day. He could be considered a bit of a reach as he was ranked just 20th among North American skaters by Central Scouting Service and went 24th in the Buzzing the Net mock draft. Some drafts had him going in the late 20s. He was 23rd in the Jeff Skinner Rankings among draft-eligible players.
He's an interesting selection, and perhaps his scoring wasn't as high as it ought to have been for a player his age, but he did have 46 goals in 92 games in the regular season and playoffs this season, so he's a player that has some excellent scoring touch that can develop in the Sens' system.