It was obvious something was up when Pittsburgh Penguins prospect defenseman Zachary Lauzon did not play in the Prospect Challenge last weekend. Either the team did not feel he was good enough to crack the lineup or he was not healthy. Today we learned it was the latter and the Penguins 2017 second-round pick is done with hockey.
Lauzon, 21, retired from hockey according to report from TVA sports in Quebec. See the original report here. Lauzon is a Val-d’Or, PQ native and played his junior hockey for the QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He missed much of the past two seasons due to concussion symptoms and a neck injury. In June, the Penguins declined to offer a qualifying offer and he became a free agent.
He played only 25 regular-season games last season and five playoff games for Rouyn-Noranda as he sought help from a team of specialists, according to TVA. The Penguins did bring Lauzon to rookie camp in June and he was on the Prospects Challenge roster but did not play.
Wednesday, it was official.
Pittsburgh Penguins Prospect Zachary Lauzon is done.
Lauzon’s misfortune amplifies the Penguins bad luck in the 2017 NHL Draft. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford dealt the Penguins first-round pick and Oskar Sundqvist to St. Louis in exchange for their second-round pick (51st overall) and enforcer Ryan Reaves. Fans did not react warmly to the move designed to protect the Penguins stars who had been nearly pummeled to a pulp during their 2017 Stanley Cup championship run.
The Penguins wanted some pushback against the aggression. However, Reaves did not last the full season and was part of the also ill-fated deal in which the Penguins acquired Derick Brassard. Reaves was sent packing to Las Vegas, which sent a couple of million dollars to the Penguins in a complex deal which allowed Rutherford to afford Brassard.
Lauzon, a defensive defenseman, was that 51st overall pick.
No matter. None of it worked.
According to the translated TVA report, Lauzon has been taking classes at New Brunswick University and did not feel he could return to hockey. During workouts in August, concussion-like symptoms again returned. From TVA:
“I was no longer comfortable making routine contacts. I changed my game. I felt fragile,” he said. “I’m proud to have gone all the way. It is a mature decision. It’s flat because the passion is still there. I could have played hockey for a long time, but I’m no longer willing to take chances and suffer the commotion of too much.”
The well-respected Lauzon received an unnamed coaching offer but plans to step away from hockey for a while.