The Ottawa Senators agreed on Thursday to loan forward Curtis Lazar to Canada for the 2015 IIHF World Championship.
Ottawa's first-round pick (No. 17) in the 2013 NHL Draft, Lazar has seven points in 26 games for the Senators, including his first NHL goal Monday against the Buffalo Sabres.
"I knew there was a possibility, it wasn't ruled out," Lazar told the Senators website. "I had a good talk with management this morning and we feel it's the best for my long-term development. It’s a great opportunity for myself. It's going to be a pretty exciting time.
"For me it's about gaining so much needed confidence and maybe finding my scoring touch. I know I got the one goal in Buffalo but if I can fill that here, if I line up beside someone like Connor McDavid, it's going to be great exposure out there and a lot of fun."
Lazar played for the Canadian team that finished fourth at the 2014 WJC in Sweden, scoring three goals and seven points in seven games. He is determined to have a prominent role in helping to lead Canada to its first gold medal since 2009.
"Even with the experience I had with the tournament last year, I want to lead and I feel I can do that," Lazar said. "We're on home soil here, the expectation is for us to win gold. I have this pro experience. If I can bring that pro mentality … I mean there's no off days. You go in there and you've got to work. I'm looking forward to doing that."
Canada begins its pre-tournament schedule against Russia on Dec. 19 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto before playing Sweden on Dec. 21 in Ottawa and Switzerland on Dec. 23 in Montreal. Canada opens the 11-day tournament on Dec. 26 against Slovakia at Bell Centre.
The gold-medal game will take place in Toronto on Jan. 5.
"I can't even wrap my head around what it's going to be like playing in Montreal and Toronto," Lazar said. "It's probably going to be the only time I get cheered for in those buildings, so I can enjoy that aspect. My junior resume is pretty complete except for a medal at the World Juniors. That's a big opportunity. I like the team that they have in place so far. I'm going to go in there and contribute, and hopefully I can check that one off the list."
Lazar, 19, averaged 12:45 a game, the second-lowest average ice time on the Senators. In Ottawa's 2-0 win against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, Lazar played 15 shifts totaling 8:30, his lowest totals of the season.
"I think it's a win-win," coach Dave Cameron told the Senators website. "I think it's very good that Curtis is going to get a chance to play in an event where he's going to be a prominent player, and he's going to play prominent minutes, and he's going to have a real leadership role. We will miss him, but in terms of big picture it's best for Curtis and therefore it's best for the organization."