Wrapping up our coverage of the 2021 Calgary Flames draft class is a profile on sixth-round pick Lucas Ciona. Rated a C level prospect going into the draft, Ciona was projected to be a late round selection and the Flames took him 173rd overall.
Who is Lucas Ciona?
Ciona is 6’2″ and 205 lbs left winger who plays for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. He has played parts of three seasons with the Thunderbirds, two of them full seasons. He has split time between the Thuderbirds and the Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL the past two seasons as well.
His production has been okay so far, but he did see a major spike last season.
In terms of rates, Ciona’s 2020-21 season was spectacular compared to his 2019-20 season. He put up the same number of points in less than half the games, which translated to a points-per-game rate of over double his previous season. If this trend continues, Ciona could be a very high scoring WHL winger in a year’s time.
What does Ciona bring to the table?
The most interesting part of Ciona’s game is definitely his improvement year to year. It is these types of trends that make later round draft choices intriguing because it’s unlikely they’ve come close to hitting their ceiling yet, and that opens up the door for them to make an impact as they continue to develop (like Andrew Mangiapane did).
This past season, Ciona saw time in the top-six, which allowed him to show off his skillset and use it in a more offensive setting. His size is obviously a big draw, and likely one of the main reasons the Flames took a flier on him in the sixth round, but he brings more to the table than just a big frame.
Ciona’s skating ability is viewed differently depending on who you ask, but for someone of his size it’s not bad. As well, Ciona is useful on both sides of special teams. He’s a reliable penalty killer already, and did play some power play minutes last season as well. This versatility also makes him a more interesting prospect.
FC Hockey profiled Ciona and had this to say about his game:
Ciona presents as a meat-and-potatoes, straightline forward, however there is an understated intelligence in his game that allows him to always be in the right spots on the ice.
Makes quick plays with the puck on his stick that can alleviate pressure and uses his body to protect the puck, showing some potential to be a power player as he develops a small area game, which has been slow to come.
Not looking to inflict physical damage, rather he uses his size and pace as a tool to cause turnovers. His head is always up with the puck on his stick and while he doesn’t possess elite creativity, he is a plus passer who excels at keeping the play moving forward towards the other end of the ice.FC Hockey
What is next for Ciona?
Like other late round picks, Ciona will almost definitely play the next two seasons in junior. Depending on how that goes, and specifically on his ability to keep improving at a rapid rate every year, he’ll fall into one of two camps. Either he’ll earn an entry level deal with the Flames and he’ll work to earn his way onto the NHL roster, or he won’t get a contract and he he’ll move on to another team or another league.
It’s tough to tell with players like Ciona, but he has the raw skills and untapped potential to make things interesting. He’ll be taking on more responsibility with the Thunderbirds next season and will be a player to watch going forward.