Chaz Lucius scores a lot of goals. It cannot be said enough.
Just taking a glimpse at his basic stats and you tilt your head like a dog begging for a treat. Curious but so damn excited because you know it’s a freakish stat line. For the National Development Program, after recovering from summer surgery to repair a bone lesion in his knee (ouch), Lucius scored more goals than he played games. The only other player to do this since 2009, is one Cole Caufield.
It’s somewhat arbitrary considering Lucius only played 12 games, but it’s still an incredible feat and only more enticing to wonder what could have happened if he played more. He’s a type of player that gets to the gritty areas of the ice to score those high-danger goals, but he can also unleash it from a distance.
Just like every pure goal scorer in every single NHL Draft, the concern is if he can continue this current rate of production. Surely he won’t score in every single game he plays, but outside of his shot and ability to create some scoring chances for his teammates, other aspects of the game are just average for the teenager.
It will be up to the right organization to select him on July 23 and mold his skills into an NHL-ready toolkit.
#12 by FCHockey
#9 by TSN
#16 by Dobber Prospects
What Scouts Are Saying
Lucius couldn’t catch a break this season. After undergoing surgery to repair a bone lesion in his knee, Lucius spent the first two-thirds of his season rehabbing at home in Minnesota while the national program played on without him in Plymouth, Michigan. Then, after filling the net with 13 goals in 13 games from late February into early April, he wasn’t able to go to Texas for U18 worlds when he fell ill with a fever before just before the deadline.
Still, the games he did play reaffirmed what he showed a year ago, which is that he’s one of the best goal scorers in the draft. He’s not an explosive skater, which leads to apprehension among some scouts as to how his finishing ability will translate at higher paces. But he’s an underrated playmaker and passer who understands how to play pucks into space when he draws pressure. He can find pockets inside the offensive zone to get open into when he doesn’t have the puck, and uses opposing defenders as decoys when he does.
One source put it to me like this: “A lot of kids can shoot the puck hard but he can shoot the puck in traffic, and through sticks and feet, and consistently get the shot off and through. That’s one of those skills that the elite goal scorers have.”
If you’re going to miss the first half of your season, you better return in style, and boy of boy, Lucius has done just that! His ability to score in a variety of ways is special whether it’s a big one-timer or a cheeky move in front of the net. His hands are flashy and there are moments where the young NTDP star takes you out of your seat. His mobility has improved since last season which is a welcome sign considering a lower-body injury was responsible for his absence. He needs to use his teammates a bit better but his puck skill and offensive intellect are intriguing. His defensive awareness has been better but there is room to improve still, but there is so much to like about the short stint we’ve seen so far this year. Now that he’s back, watch for him to rise on boards.
Lucius’ shooting is easily top-five in this draft class; his shooting mechanics are refined, and he shows the ability to vary his shot based on the circumstances. If he is using a one-timer from the half-wall, he’ll push his top hand out and transfer his weight from back to forth; if he is closer to the net, he will use a downforce shot to elevate the puck quickly. His wrist shot is mechanically sound, and he shows strong kinetic understanding to use his entire body to his advantage. His shot in-stride does leave something to be desired, but he should have no problem working on his shot, as it is something he loves to do. He hits the net two-thirds of the time and seems to know when to shoot rather than slinging every puck on net. Furthermore, 86% of his attempts on goal were from the slot, with only two pucks thrown on goal from outside that area.
Lucius’ ability to drive the play positively was more than evident in these five viewings, especially his ability to generate slot passes and high-danger chances. He baits players into free space behind them, exploiting it either himself or through a teammate. His tendency to bring the puck to the middle of the offensive zone helps generate decent scoring risk on a regular basis, but he did benefit from playing with teammates that drive play well, such as Tyler Boucher, Isaac Howard, and Jeremy Wilmer. His ability to create shots for himself also helped, as almost 30% of the shot attempts with Lucius on the ice came directly from him.
Lucius missed most of the season with various injuries but when healthy he showed what he did in his underage season, in that he could score a lot of goals and drive a team’s offense. Lucius is one of the most purely skilled players in the draft, with elite one-on-one skills and the ability to make defenders miss. He is known for his goal scoring, but he has good vision and can find seams and create in tight areas. His scoring is less due to an elite shot and where he scores. If you saw a heat map for his shots, it’s a big blob in front of the crease. Lucius lacks physicality and defensive value off the puck but he generates a lot of offense by going to the net. His skating is a concern and he will likely not be able to separate at the NHL level. In a sentence, Lucius projects as a strong top-six NHL forward who can be on a top power-play unit in a bumper/net position.
Would He Fit In With The Wild?
Every single team in the NHL could use a player that scores a lot of goals. But in Minnesota, there is clear preference for every player to have some sense of responsibility on both ends of the ice. Even top-end talent like Kirill Kaprizov wants to kill the opposition of they’re in possession of the puck — hunting them down with a unique tenacity.
That being said, if Lucius can develop some two-way ability — because what offensive prospect is actually good on both ends of the ice as a teenager? — then sure, he will fit right in with the Wild. They do need someone to score more goals.
Could The Wild Get Him?
With the 21st and 25th picks in the first round, it’s unlikely but not impossible that Lucius drops down that low. I’m not positive that he is a talent worthy of trading up for, since other good-enough forwards and stable defensemen are set to be available at those spots.
But Lucius is certainly someone that the Wild can target if he’s dropping — maybe just hope and pray that they don’t need to move up to select him.
A Minnesota Relation
Marian Gaborik is the easy option here. A pure goal scorer that can light up offenses, but isn’t the most dynamic defensive player and relies on his production to get more NHL jobs. Despite comparisons being essentially useless and if Lucius has a career similar to Gaborik’s then it’s an incredible success.
It’s just for fun, but stylistically the two are cut from similar cloths.
2021 NHL Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
- Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
- Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
- Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
- Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)