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Curtis Lazar of Senators not worried by trade rumors

22-year-old forward eager to get back into lineup, help Ottawa make playoffs

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar is aware he has been mentioned in trade rumors, but says he isn't focused on whether he will change his address.

There are 14 days remaining until the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline (March 1, 3 p.m. ET) and Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has made public his desire to possibly add more offensive depth for the stretch run in order to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The Ottawa Sun reported Wednesday that Lazar's agent, J.P. Barry, has scheduled a meeting with Dorion to discuss the future of his client. The meeting will take place in Toronto on Saturday, when the Senators face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET.; CBC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

"[Barry] wants to try and find a solution that will help me out; it's nothing against Ottawa or the Senators because I love playing here," Lazar said Thursday. "My main focus lately has been how to get back into the lineup. I haven't thought about anything else; you [media] people make with it what you want but, for myself, it's one day at a time.

"I haven't talked to [Barry] in quite some time, so just to sit down with him and not only talk about the current situation, but just about myself and what it will take for me to succeed, will be good. The bottom line is I'm an Ottawa Senator and want to be an Ottawa Senator."

Video: MTL@OTT: Lazar pads the lead with a shorthanded goal

Lazar, 22, had been a healthy scratch for the past four games but is slated to return to the lineup at the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, TSN5, RDS, NHL.TV).

"We're focused on playing the game and getting points," Senators center Derick Brassard said, "but I know our GM wants to win and [coach Guy Boucher] wants to win so if they can add a player that makes sense and it won't hurt the future of our team, I think he's going to do it. A couple days ago, [Dorion] kicked the tires on [Colorado Avalanche forward Matt] Duchene but didn't want to expose any players in our future.

"He's working really hard to help us make a big push for the playoffs, but as players we just have to focus on what we have to do now. We just have to play and control what we can."

Lazar, selected by the Senators with the No. 17 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had been a healthy scratch for five of the past seven games. The Senators are in second place in the Atlantic Division, six points behind the Montreal Canadiens, who have played four more games.

Lazar is in the final year of a three-year, entry-level contract he signed with the Senators on Sept. 17, 2013.

"Mental strength and toughness is definitely a big part of what I've had to focus on this season," Lazar said. "I can truthfully say when I first got called up this season and wasn't getting much of a look, it did affect me and I became a little bitter and sour but that didn't help me.

"You look at the bye week and the All-Star break and that's where you kind of mentally reset yourself. I've looked at this as an opportunity of late; there's no pressure so I can bust my butt in practice, get better and prepare myself."

Dorion has been looking for any opportunity to upgrade his roster. However, owner Eugene Melnyk said he doesn't want to mortgage the future. That means trading blue-chip defense prospect Thomas Chabot of Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League or highly regarded forward Colin White of Boston College in Hockey East might not be part of the equation.

The Senators acquired veteran forward Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks for forwards Zack Stortini and Buddy Robinson and a 2017 seventh-round draft pick on Jan. 24. The trade came the same week the Senators signed Zack Smith to a four-year contract and placed forward Clarke MacArthur (concussion) on injured reserve.

Boucher knows players can be a little on edge this time of the year.

"Maybe some players … more so than others because anything is possible," Boucher said. "The trade deadline doesn't mean a negative. Guys are hoping they get something positive around our team. If it happens, great, and if it doesn't, we've done fine with the players we have now. Everybody knows we've tried to replace MacArthur the minute we lost him for good. We got [goalie] Craig Anderson back, so that's like a great trade there; we just need to continue being consistent."

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