New Jersey Devils’ Curtis Lazar Loving Life in New Jersey

Nov 28, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Curtis Lazar (42) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Curtis Lazar (42) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

Though he only is 24 games into his tenure with the New Jersey Devils, Curtis Lazar is having an impact both on and off the ice. Acquired from the Vancouver Canucks on March 3, 2023, the 28-year-old scored his first goal as a Devil in the postseason, and this season as mostly a third or fourth-liner, Lazar has posted seven points (4g-3) in 20 games – including two game-winning goals, which matches his career total in that category entering this season.

The Devils and Lazar kick off a four-game road trip in Vancouver and the results of the trip will likely go a long way into determining which way the season will go for them.

“You look how our team is built – speed and skill – being able to grind out games, find different ways to score, be opportunistic on the power play, and lock it down on the penalty kill,” Lazar told media members after a recent home win. Yet, he knows the team has been scuffling a bit and not playing to their full capabilities.

Curtis Lazar of New Jersey Devils hits Alexis Lafreniere of New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Curtis Lazar of New Jersey Devils hits Alexis Lafreniere of New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

“We know we have to go on a run,” added the veteran of almost 500 NHL games after being drafted 17th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. Usually, when someone is drafted that high, there are a lot of expectations and whether that is right or not, it can challenge that young kid mentally. But Lazar, now on his sixth NHL team, has been able to navigate it all and is pleased with where he finds himself ten seasons into his pro career.

“My game doesn’t really change. I’m not here trying to score, just going hard to the net and play those hard minutes. It’s been a long road,” said Lazar, “I guess a high pedigree and what I could’ve been, but I love the spot I’m in, my role, and I couldn’t be happier here.”

Oftentimes this season he’s been on a line with an important prospect for the Devils, Alexander Holtz, and the duo have had some really good moments that the team needed within some games to take a lead or tie the score. So what’s different for Holtz this season in his teammate’s eyes?

“Confidence. He’s gripping the stick a little lighter; he’s having some fun,” Lazar said. “He’s so skilled; every game is a learning curve. For myself, every game I play with him – put him in spots to succeed in the o-zone, he has some more creativity than I do; he’s always letting me know what I can do better, which I love,” he added with a grin.

“Alex is a great kid; he’s working hard, and he’s getting up to speed in this league really quick,” he added. Lazar mentioned that he doesn’t overdo it, as far as being that big brother/mentor for the young Holtz, more so he’ll pick his spots when he feels the time is necessary. After all, Lazar has been through a lot of the same situations himself not too long ago.

“That’s something that I’ll watch from afar and if I ever see stuff I went or lived through – I’ll always be there (for him). Am I going to be directing him like hey, I went through this, this, and this? No. He’s his own person,” said no .42.

New Jersey Devils
Curtis Lazar of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

“He’s having fun, he’s doing it himself, and I think the coaching staff has been great with him, teaching him how to learn and grow. So I’ll take that back seat, but if something needs to be said – it’ll be something like just play your game. You’re here for a reason. He’s a helluva player.”

For Lazar, at some point, he reached a crossroads as to what type of player he had to be to keep a spot in the NHL. Not every player joins the league and has instant success like Connor McDavid or Luke Hughes.

“Early on, you think the world is yours, and you’re going to get every opportunity; then as you kind of start to falter – do you wanna play the blame game and point fingers? I didn’t have a chance here, so why didn’t I play there, I only got a shift in the third (period). It doesn’t work that way,” Lazar told Pucks and Pitchforks. “I don’t even know when it was, but I took a summer and said to myself – what can I do to be effective in this league?”

“Be a third, fourth line guy, kill penalties, win face-offs. And I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. People will still call me a bust and say that I won’t exceed expectations, but I’m still playing here – and playing some of my best hockey now. Everyone’s path is different, and everyone is a different piece of the puzzle to help us win. Hopefully, Holtz doesn’t to that point,” he added. “I’m not gonna let that happen.”

Devils Head Coach Lindy Ruff is a big fan of Lazar’s game and what he has brought to the team since they acquired him at last season’s trade deadline.

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“He’s been an important guy (for us); he’s been able to fill in at center, fill in at right wing, and do some penalty killing. He’s a reliable guy who is strong along the walls and does the right thing with the puck. He’s been really important in his role – the shorthanded goal in Pittsburgh; he has been able to grab ahold of moments inside of a game and really help us win hockey games.”

After speaking with him for just a few minutes here and there during his time in New Jersey, Lazar is an easy guy to root for. He plays hard, loves the game, and may sometimes eat a burger off the ice if the opportunity presents itself.

“I was young, having some fun; that’s why I play the game, to have fun. Will I do quirky stuff? Absolutely. That whole Hamburglar run with Ottawa was pretty incredible. To break into the league and be a part of that was special. But like you said, that thing will be with me for the rest of my life. It’s always good for a good laugh,” he replied with a smile when we asked about that infamous moment in Ottawa alongside goaltender Andrew Hammond (who would play for the Devils briefly in 2021-22).

“I didn’t think he was gonna get up for some of those games. He was so fatigued. But how he battled, the way that team came together was magical. You take from those experiences that when you are down, sometimes you aren’t out. So much fun, and something I’ll never forget.”

Lazar hopes these Devils can go on a magical run this season and make it a memorable experience for everyone in New Jersey.

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“Having my family here is the big difference for me from last season. We have our apartment set up in Hoboken. We love the lifestyle, the area, and the guys in this organization are great,” he told Pucks and Pitchforks. “So that all makes my job pretty easy, coming to the rink with a role and knowing what is expected of me. I just have to put my head down and work. I feel at home here, and I think it is showing.”