Photo Credit – Rena Laverty
Chaz Lucius not only boasts one of the most amazing names in the 2021 NHL Draft class, but also one of the most talented and intriguing offensive skill sets. Lucius is a 17 year-old prospect currently playing for the United States National Team Development Program’s U-18 squad. Lucius was born in Grant, Minnesota, and was a relatively late bloomer to the game of hockey, beginning to play at eight years old.
He played at Gentry Academy, a middle school academy which his parents Chuck and Tami founded to help develop Chaz, as well as his 2022 NHL Draft-eligible brother, Cruz. When the opportunity came knocking to join the USNTDP, Lucius jumped at the chance and certainly did not disappoint. In his first season playing for the U-17 team in 2019/20, Lucius tallied 31 goals and 19 assists for 50 points in 46 games. He also added eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 32 games during U-17 USHL play.
The 2020/21 season has been somewhat of a loss thus far for Lucius, as he’s missed the entirety of it due to a lower body injury. Hopefully he can make a full recovery and be back on the ice for the U-18’s as soon as possible.
For the 2021/22 season, Lucius has committed to the University of Minnesota, where he will join the likes of Ben Meyers, Sampo Ranta, and Ryan Johnson. Lucius will certainly add to a very talented Golden Gophers team who has had an amazing start to the 2020/21 season, amassing a record of 10-1 as of January 9th.
D.O.B – May 2, 2003
Nationality – American
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –172 lbs
Position – Centre
Handedness – Right
Lucius’ Style Of Play
Lucius’ style of play reminds me a lot of his teammate on the U-18 USNTDP squad, Sasha Pastjuov. Lucius has a great set of hands, an insanely high hockey IQ, and is a natural goal scorer. He is a shoot-first forward and can score from almost anywhere in the offensive zone. Lucius is just as likely to wow you with a beautiful wrist shot goal as he is to tap in a loose puck in the crease. He’s able to disrupt play in the defensive zone quite well, thus forcing more turnovers and generating more chances for his team in transition. Lucius is a flexible forward, meaning he can play at any position up front, although his natural position is center. At the next level, he seems like he’ll be a fit on the wing to start, perhaps moving back to center later on.
Perhaps the only knock on his all-around game, and it’s mainly just being picky, would be his explosiveness. As he’s still a 17 year old developing prospect, it’s not uncommon to see this trait at his age. That being said, Lucius does possess great edge work, and can change direction quite quickly. Teams may be a little weary to select him so high knowing he does have some work to do in this area, however I don’t anticipate it affecting his draft stock too much.
The one aspect of Chaz Lucius’ game where there aren’t many questions to be asked is his talent in the offensive zone. Simply put, he scores goals. A lot of them. He tucked home 11 goals in seven games to start the 2019/20 season, and finished with 31 on the season. There aren’t many teams in the NHL who couldn’t use that kind of offensive production out of a first-round pick. Not only can he score, he has one impressive set of hands. His shot release is incredibly fast, and he can make the opposing teams pay from the blue-line in. As much as he’s known as a goal-scorer, he is more than capable of being a very good playmaker as well. His impressive vision on the ice helps him seek out teammates in open ice where he can deliver a pass. Lucius’ ability to create chances and capitalize on them will surely impress nearly every team.
The one area of Lucius’ game where i was mildly surprised/impressed with was his capability in the defensive zone. He can backcheck with ease and is back to help out his defencemen quite quickly more times than not. Lucius also is great at anticipating when the puck is going to become loose in his zone, and then can quickly pick it up and execute a good breakout pass. As good as he is in his own zone for his age, Lucius’ defensive skill should only go up. Teams will love his ability to be fully capable in his own zone, as well as being the offensive juggernaut that he is.
Lucius has developed himself into a very respectable 200-foot player, but could still benefit from rounding his game out a little bit. His skating could use a little more burst off the hop, which will obviously help him out immensely at the next level. With some added explosiveness, he will be able to couple that with his great hockey sense and awareness to create some dangerous changes in transition and off the rush. Aside from his explosiveness, Lucius could still benefit from adding to his defensive zone play, which may show teams he can be trusted as a three-zone player at the NHL Level.
There’s no doubt in my mind Lucius would have been skyrocketing up the mock draft rankings had he been healthy to start the season. Once he gets back to full strength, look for him to light it up for the U-18’s, barring a setback. His offensive ability will have teams picking in the middle of the first round salivating at the chance to draft someone with his skillset. Based off his U-17 season, look for Chaz Lucius to be selected anywhere between the 12th and 20th picks.
Elias Lindholm – Center/Right Wing, Calgary Flames
This comparison may be a bit of a reach, considering Lucius has better goal scoring ability than Lindholm, however, both players are known for being elusive in the offensive zone, having an excellent set of hands, and having some incredible vision on the ice. Also, both players are capable of slotting in at any position up front, and know where to be in the offensive zone to put the puck in the net.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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