If you haven't seen Mario Lucia in a Wild camp yet, don't worry, none of us have. The oft absent prospect from the annual July development camp has been quietly putting together a nice career in South Bend, Indiana. Lucia, the son of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach, Don Lucia, decided to play at his dad's alma mater at Notre Dame. It's hard for us Wild and Minnesota-based fans to actually witness the kid's development from afar, but he's been carving out quite a career out of the Minnesota spotlight.
Lucia scored 25 goals and 22 assists in 24 games during his senior year at Wayzata High School. He'was a member of the U20 USA World Junior team that captured Gold in Ufa, Russia, and a member of the Penticton Vees that set a record for wins in the British Columbia Hockey League - not to mention winning the RBC Cup that year. He is now putting up solid numbers for Notre Dame. In two seasons, spanning 72 games, Lucia has scored 28 goals, helped on 26 other ones, for a total of 54 points. That's .75 points per game in major college hockey.
Lucia has good size and really good speed. To me, he seems to be a lot like Erik Haula.
What the Scouts Say:
A speedy winger with some good size already, Lucia has been ahead of the competition at every level of his young career.
- Hockey's Future
He fights for every inch and isn't afraid to be physical to get to pucks. Lucia's style fits in with the general philosophy of Minnesota second round picks. He can be effective when not in the top-six due to his size and style.
-First Round Bust
We don't draft kids because they're from Minnesota. We draft them because they're good players and they may happen to be from here.
- Brent Flahr
The Wild are excited about Lucia as a prospect because he is such a smart player. Growing up as a coach's son, that would be expected that you can think the game on a high level. The Wild really like smart players and he should find a way to fit into any spot the Wild ask him to play in future years.
Lucia's versatility may be a great strength, but may also be his biggest weakness. He is good at a number of things, but not particularly great at any one thing. He might be squeezed out of the top 6 for the Wild and will be fighting against tougher competition as a third liner or play limited minutes on a checking 4th line.
I see Lucia going through his senior year with the Irish as there just isn't any incentive (or room) to signing a pro contract early. He may even not find a real future with the Wild (at least not what was there when he was drafted) and become a college free agent. Lucia has skill and can find a way to the NHL. I just don't know if the Wild will be the team he plays for.