Ottawa Senators 2013 first-round pick (No. 17) Curtis Lazar has his sights set on being in the NHL this season.
One step in that process will involve a trip west to London, Ontario. He'll be part of the team the Senators are sending to the London Rookie Tournament, which will be held Sept. 13-16 and will feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Lazar, No. 16 on NHL.com's Top 60 prospect ranking, played center during his junior time with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, but likely will have to shift to right wing if he wants to last in Ottawa.
"We think it would be best suited for us if he was a winger," Senators assistant general manager and director of player development and hockey operations Randy Lee told The Canadian Press on Thursday. "He's really good along the walls, but the fact that he can play both [center and wing] is great. The fact that he can take faceoffs is great, but he is very good along the walls and he's always in the right position. He's a very dependable player so he'll have no problem playing on the wing."
Lazar told CP that where he plays doesn't concern him as long as it's in the NHL.
"There's been a lot of speculation this summer, but I'm just happy to come here and play," Lazar said. "Wherever I go, I try and have as much success as possible. But at the same time, if things don't go my way, it's a learning curve. You don't want to get down on yourself."
Lazar said he spent the summer working out in Kelowna, British Columbia, with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges and said he added weight to his 6-foot, 196-pound frame to better handle the rigors of playing in the NHL.
"I'm about 10 to 15 pounds heavier and it just makes me comfortable in my body," he said. "And getting to play in Edmonton the last couple of weeks has helped me get used to myself and I'll see how I can do against the pros in the next few weeks."
He said one of the things he learned from Gorges, who is entering his 10th NHL season, is to have fun with the process as best as he can.
"A big part of it is just to try and enjoy it," Lazar said. "There's so much going on and people say there's pressure, but I don't like to see it that way. It's a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to thriving in this situation and just being myself. Whatever I've been doing it's gotten me in this situation so why change it. I'm going to go out there and keep on smiling."