As we continue our 2021 NHL draft profiles, we will next take a look at centreman Chaz Lucius. Lucius came in at 11th in TWC’s consolidated rankings, placing him right around the Flames pick range. He was also recently listed as the 12th ranked North American Skater by Central Scouting.
Who is Chaz Lucius?
Lucius just recently celebrated his 18th birthday on May 2nd, making him one of the younger players available in the first round of the draft this year as a 2003-born skater.
Lucius is American, born in Grant, Minnesota. He’s spent his entire career to date playing throughout the USA Hockey system, and has committed to playing for his hometown team at the University of Minnesota for the upcoming 2021–22 season.
He is a natural centreman and stands at 6’0″ and 172 pounds.
Chaz Lucius’ on-ice production
Lucius has mainly played throughout the USA hockey system thus far, most recently in both the USHL and for the USDP National teams.
|2018-19||D-2||NAPHL 15U||Gentry Academy 15U AAA||13||39||23||62||N/A|
During the 2018–19 season as a 15-year-old, Lucius played for Gentry Academy at the AAA level and posted some ridiculous numbers. He racked up 62 points over just 13 games for a points per game rate of 4.67 which was tops in the league by a wide margin. The next closest player had just 42 points.
During the 2019–20 season Lucius made the jump to the USHL as well as suiting up for the National U17 development team, and the National U18 development team as a 16-year-old. He primarily played for the U17 team that season, posting a team best 50 points and 31 goals in 46 games. He also had success in the USHL, posting 22 points in 32 games for the USNTDP Juniors. He did get into six games for the U18 team as well, but posted just two points as a 16-year-old.
This most recent season, Lucius once again spent time with both the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL, as well as the National U18 team, although he missed most of the season with a lower body injury. Improving on his two points from the previous season, Lucius posted an impressive 20 points in 13 games for the U18 team. His 1.53 points per game was second on the team behind fellow 2021 top prospect Sasha Pastujov. He also once again had success in the USHL, posting 18 points in 12 games including 13 goals. His 1.5 points per game was first on the team.
Lucius has only played in one international tournament for the USA, the 2019 World U17 Hockey Challenge where he led the tournament in scoring with 10 points in six games en route to a silver medal. He missed the U18 World Junior Championships this year due to an injury but should have a decent shot at making team USA for the 2022 World Juniors.
Chaz Lucius’ strengths
Lucius is a pure goal scorer, through and through. His pure shooting ability is probably top-five in this year’s draft class. He’s an elite sniper with the puck on his stick. He can use any type of shot to score, as he possesses a very good wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot, and backhand. He’s a very accurate shooter, and has major velocity behind his shots. He’s also selective with his shots, making sure to use his shot efficiently instead of just every chance he gets.
Lucius has a solid set of hands as well, which he uses to create scoring chances in tight around the net. Here he is showcasing his hands and goal scoring ability to score a beauty in overtime.
He also uses his strong stickhandling and puck skills to keep control of the puck in the cycle game and has shown to be a very solid play driver. When he’s on the ice in the offensive zone, his team is almost always getting high-danger chances, whether they are his own shot attempts or his teammates’. He has a knack for bringing the puck into dangerous areas in the offensive zone and loves getting to the middle of the ice.
He doesn’t possess elite playmaking skills, however, he is able to find teammates all over the ice and has good enough vision to connect on passes in tight spaces. He’s also a very smart player, and uses his IQ to distribute the puck efficiently when he has to.
This clip really summarizes what Lucius brings to the table. He finds a teammate with a pass, gets into a perfect area for the return pass on the give-and-go, then uses his elite shot to fire a wicked shot into the back of the net.
Chaz Lucius’ Area’s of Improvement
The biggest knock on Lucius is his skating. His skating ability is certainly below other top prospects in the draft. He has a very awkward stride which prevents him from generating top-end speed in open ice. He also has below-average acceleration, which makes it tough for him to win puck races at times and his skating limits his role in the transition game. Further, his overall ability to beat defenders one on one off the rush isn’t super strong.
It won’t prevent him from making the step to the NHL, but it is definitely something he will have to work on if he wants to have success in the NHL. He does have decent edgework and agility, he just need to work on his stride, and overall speed and power.
Another big area for improvement is his overall defensive game. Lucius is not very strong in his own zone, and can often get caught up ice as the last man back on the backcheck. He also has a tendency to leave the zone early looking for a quick breakaway pass, while his team is still defending.
At just 172 pounds, Lucius could also benefit from adding some more size and strength to his frame, as this will help his overall game not only in the defensive zone, but in the offensive zone as well.
Fit with the Flames
Lucius would be a very good fit with the Flames. Despite playing mainly centre to this point in his career, his skills would translate well to the wing as well. Some scouts do question his ability to play centre at the next level, and believe the wing may suit him better once he gets to the NHL. He’s also a right shot, which is something the Flames organization is sorely lacking right now.
The Flames also lack any pure goal scorers outside of Sean Monahan and he hasn’t looked like himself in over two years. Lucius would bring some serious goal scoring talent to the organization, which the Flames desperately need more of both in the present and in the future. In fact, his overall skillset is very similar to Monahan’s, which could make him a perfect replacement a few years down the road.
As a right-shot goal scoring forward, Lucius is probably one of the best fits available for the Flames at the top of the draft outside of Dylan Guenther considering the team’s organizational needs. Everyone knows the Flames’ biggest need is the elusive NHL-calibre right-shot right winger, and Lucius could certainly be shifted to play on the right side if needed in the future to fill that need.
Lucius may have some work to do on his skating and defensive game, however he possesses an elite shot and ability to score goals which makes him a very valuable prospect. He’s without a doubt one of the best pure goal scoring talents in the draft this year.
His ceiling is high because of his elite shot and knack for scoring goals. With the skills he possesses, he has 30-plus goal potential in the NHL if he can put it all together. To get there though he will have to continue to work on his skating, and overall defensive play in order to make it at the professional level. He could also benefit from adding some size and strength before jumping to the NHL, but he has plenty of time to do that.
Lucius is more of a long term project than some other top prospects in the draft, as he is likely still at least two or three years away from playing in the NHL. He will make the jump to the NCAA next season with the University of Minnesota where he’ll get a chance to play against older and stronger opponents.
Projection: Top-six goal scoring centre/winger.
Featured image created with Venngage.