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Chaz Lucius leads list of Minnesotans into the draft

07/23/2021, 9:45am CDT
By Bryan Zollman

Gopher recruit expected to be a top 15 pick, could crack top 1O

Chaz Lucius is a product of Gentry Academy and played his high school years for Team USA's National Development squad. /Photo Courtesy of Rena Laverty/

Chaz Lucius leads the list of Minnesotans who are set to be drafted this weekend in the NHL Entry Draft.

Lucius is slated to be a first-rounder, and likely to be the highest pick for a Minnesotan since Casey Mittelstadt went No. 8 overall in 2O17 to the Buffalo Sabres.

While Mittelstadt had a storied Minnesota High School career, however, Lucius has been somewhat of an unknown amongst general hockey fans in the state of hockey. Rather than showcasing his talents at the XCEL Energy center the past couple Marches, Lucius has instead been pushing puck for the USA National team. Playing for the United States National Team Development Program in 2O19-2O, he racked up eight goals and 22 points in 32 games playing against USHL competition. For the U.S. National U17 team that same year he put up a gaudy 31 goals and 5O points in 46 games. Later at the World Hockey Championships he scored seven goals in six games. 

This past season playing for team USA's U18 squad, he scored 26 goals and 38 points in 25 games.

So what makes Lucius such a special player? We spoke to his youth coach Billy Hengen about the Gentry Academy product that became a Gopher commit at age 14. Hengen began coaching Lucius as a 9-year-old with the Minnesota Blades.

"A couple things that separates Chaz that makes him unique is his mindset and consistency as a player," said Hengen. "As a 1O-year-old he was practicing with better practice habits than the high school kids I was coaching at the time. It was obvious at that age we were dealing with a special kid in how he approached the game."

Hengen said Lucius is potentially the best goal scorer in his age group, which is why draft experts having him going in the top 12 picks in this weekend's draft.

"He has a great shot, great release and is very accurate," Hengen said. "He doesn't miss very many opportunities. He has a rare ability to shoot pucks through defenders sticks and feet, with pressure on him, and get quality shots on net. A talent that few possess."

Hengen said most players want to score goals, but Lucius is unmatched in his appetite for finding the back of the net. If the team is up big, he wants to score that next goal. If the game goes to overtime, he expects to score the game winner.

"He's relentless and unapologetic," Hengen said. 

Lucius' career hasn't come without setbacks. This past season he was limited to 25 games due to a lower body injury, but it appears he is healthy, and his production in those 25 games is a testament to him being fully healthy and ready to take the next step at the next level. Playing in the USHL he scored 13 goals in 12 games.

"It's incredible to average more than a goal a game in the USHL," he said. 

Hengen said his draft stock probably tumbled some due to the injury, but expects him to be a top 15 pick. At 6'O" and 17O pounds he is more than just a flashy puck handler and goal scorer. He can play a physical game.

"He has big physical presence though the middle of the rink, is tough on the puck and has a heavy stick so he wins battles," said Hengen. "He has great hands so he can out-finesse a guy in a loose puck battle."

Time will tell what team will snatch up the prized prospect. He is expected to play for the Gophers next season, and is likely on a similar path as Mittelstadt was when he played one season for the Gophers before signing an NHL contract. 

Hengen said whatever team lands him will be happy with their pick.

"He's a special one," he said. "Hopefully he finds a good home in the draft."

Round 1 will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, July 23 (ESPN2, Sportsnet, SN NOW, TVA Sports). Rounds 2-7 will begin at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, July 24 (NHL Network, Sportsnet, SN NOW).

Other Minnesota Prospects who could get drafted:

Jack Peart, Grand Rapids HS, 

Peart made a clean sweep of the Mr. Hockey and Reed Larson Awards in 2O2O-21 and is headed to St. Cloud State University. They will be getting a steady, stay-at-home defenseman who can also jump into the play. A gifted skater with great vision, Peart projects to be a second rounder, much like last year's top Minnesota pick Brock Faber. He is ranked No. 27 by the NHL Scouting Bureau amongst North American skaters. 


Tristan Broz, Fargo Force USHL

Broz, like Lucius, is somewhat of an unknown amongst Minnesota high school hockey fans because he opted to go to juniors early where he has played for the Fargo Force the past two seasons after enjoying success at Blake High School. Broz put up 49 points in 51 games for Fargo this past season where he also served as assistant captain as an 18-year-old. He could be a second round pick and is ranked just one spot behind Peart by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau at No. 28 amongst North American skaters. He is also slated to play next season for the Gophers.

Jackson Blake, Eden Prairie HS

We all saw Blake's talent on display at this year's state tournament where he led the Eagles to the Class AA title. In just 19 game she had 2O goals and 58 points, including the overtime winner to seal the title win. A gifted skater and puck handler with a knack for the net, Blake is rated 52nd by NHL Central Scouting and will likely go in the mid rounds of this year's draft. He doesn't turn 18 until Aug. 3. He will attend the University of North Dakota, following in his dad, Jason Blake's footsteps. The elder Blake played 13 seasons in the NHL.

Kyle Kukkonen, Maple Grove HS

Kukkonen was a Mr. Hockey favorite and didn't disappoint with his production this season for the Crimson, notching 74 points in 23 regular season games. This was coming off a year he missed most of his junior season due to an injury. Kukkonen is noted as a gifted playmaker who is also great in one-on-one battles. He is ranked No. 78 by NHL Central Scouting and projects to be a mid to late round pick. He is headed to Michigan Tech.

Charlie Lurie, Shattuck-St. Mary's

Lurie hails from Minnetonka, but played his prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault. His top skill is his shot and ability to get to open ice in the slot. He is ranked No. 81 by NHL Central Scouting. This past season playing 18U Prep for Shattuck, he had 29 goals and 46 points in 36 games. He is headed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Jack Harvey, Chicago Steel USHL

Another product of Gentry Academy, Harvey opted to play last season in the USHL for the Chicago Steel where he scored nine goals and 17 points in 48 games. Noted as a gifted puck handler he ranks No. 91 amongst North American skaters by NHL's Central Scouting. He is committed to Boston University.

Henry Nelson, Maple Grove HS

Nelson is the second-ranked defenseman on the list behind Grand Rapids' Peart. At 6'1" and 174 pounds he possess solid size to go along with his skill set. He's a good playmaker from the blue line and had 35 assists last season as a senior at Maple Grove. He ranks No. 96 amongst North American skaters and is slated to play college hockey at the University of Notre Dame.

Luke Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie HS

It's no wonder Eden Prairie finished second twice in a row before winning the state title last year with guys like Blake and Mittelstadt. Unlike his older brother, who was a first rounder in 2O17, Mittelstadt is a defenseman who can skate, pass and shoot the puck well. He averaged over an assist a game in last year's title run and is ranked No. 98 by NHL Central Scouting. He is a Gopher commit.


NHL Central Scouting rankings of Minnesota players amongst North American Skaters

Player Position 2O2O-21 Team Ranking Hometown
Chaz Lucius Forward USA U18 12 Grant
Jack Peart Defense Grand Rapids HS 27 Grand Rapids
Tristan Broz Forward Fargo - USHL 28 Bloomington
Jackson Blake Forward Eden Prairie HS 52 Eden Prairie
Kyle Kukkonen Forward Maple Grove HS 78 Maple Grove
Charlie Lurie Forward Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep 81 Minnetonka
Jack Harvey Forward Chicago - USHL 91 Stacy
Henry Nelson Defense Maple Grove HS 96 Maple Grove
Luke Mittelstadt Defense Eden Prairie HS 98 Eden Prairie
Joe Palodichuk Defense Hill-Murray HS 1O9 Cottage Grove
Luke Levandowski Forward Rosemount HS 112 Rosemount
Joey Pierce Defense Hermantown HS 118 Ely
Bennett Schimek Forward Sioux City - USHL 121 Mendota Heights
Justin Janicke Forward USA U18 128 Maple Grove
Cameron Berg Forward Muskegon - USHL 14O White Bear Lake
Cade Ahrenholz Forward Lakeville South HS 176 Lakeville
Brody Lamb Forward Dodge County HS 178 Kasson
Carter Batchelder Forward Eden Prairie HS 199 Eden Prairie
Connor Kurth Forward Dubuque - USHL 2O3 Elk River
Jacob Martin Defense USA U18 211 White Bear Lake

NHL Central Scouting Rankings of North American Goalies from Minnesota

Player Position 2O2O-21 Team Ranking Hometown
Anton Castro Goalie Northeast Generals - NAHL 14 Mendota Heights
Remington Keopple Goalie Des Moines - USHL 19 Hudson, WI - played at Hill-Murray HS

Draft Order by Round

Round 1

1. Buffalo
2. Seattle
3. Anaheim
4. New Jersey
5. Columbus
6. Detroit
7. San Jose
8. Los Angeles
9. Vancouver
10. Ottawa
11. Forfeited pick
12. Chicago
13. Calgary
14. Philadelphia
15. Dallas
16. NY Rangers
17. St. Louis
18. Winnipeg
19. Nashville
20. Edmonton
21. Boston
22. Minnesota
23. Detroit (from WSH)
24. Florida
25. Columbus (from TOR)
26. Minnesota (from PIT)
27. Carolina
28. Colorado
29. New Jersey (from NYI)
30. Vegas
31. Montreal
32. Columbus (from TBL)

Pick 11 - The NHL directed the forfeiture of this pick in sanctions against the Arizona Coyotes announced Aug. 26, 2020.


Round 2

33. Buffalo
34. Anaheim
35. Seattle
36. Vegas (from NJD)
37. Arizona (from CBJ via OTT)
38. Detroit
39. Ottawa (from SJS)
40. Nashville (from LAK)
41. Vancouver
42. Ottawa
43. Arizona
44. Chicago
45. Calgary
46. Philadelphia
47. Dallas
48. Detroit (from NYR)
49. Los Angeles (from STL via BUF and VGK)
50. Winnipeg
51. Nashville
52. NY Islanders (from DET via EDM)
53. Buffalo (from BOS)
54. Minnesota
55. Washington
56. Florida
57. Toronto
58. Pittsburgh
59. Carolina
60. Arizona (from NYI via COL)
61. Colorado (from NJD via NYI)
62. Chicago (from VGK)
63. Montreal
64. Montreal (from TBL)

Round 3

65. NY Rangers (from BUF)
66. Anaheim
67. Seattle
68. New Jersey
69. Columbus
70. Detroit
71. San Jose
72. Los Angeles
73. Dallas (from VAN)
74. Ottawa
75. Washington (from ARI via NJD)
76. Montreal (from CHI)
77. Calgary
78. Philadelphia
79. Dallas
80. NY Rangers
81. St. Louis
82. Winnipeg
83. Nashville
84. Calgary (from EDM)
85. Boston
86. Minnesota
87. Montreal (from WSH via SJS)
88. Buffalo (from FLA)
89. Los Angeles (from TOR)
90. Minnesota (from PIT via SJS)
91. Carolina
92. Colorado
93. NY Islanders
94. Carolina (from DET via VGK)
95. Buffalo (from MTL)
96. Tampa Bay

Round 4

97. Buffalo
98. Anaheim
99. Seattle
100. New Jersey
101. Columbus
102. Detroit
103. San Jose
104. NY Rangers (from LAK)
105. Chicago (from VAN)
106. NY Rangers (from OTT)
107. Arizona
108. Chicago
109. Los Angeles (from CGY)
110. Philadelphia
111. Dallas
112. NY Rangers
113. Montreal (from STL)
114. Vegas (from WPG)
115. Nashville
116. Edmonton
117. Boston
118. Minnesota
119. Washington
120. Florida
121. San Jose (from TOR)
122. Arizona (from PIT)
123. Carolina
124. Nashville (from COL via OTT)
125. NY Islanders
126. Montreal (from VGK)
127. Montreal
128. Detroit (from TBL)

Round 5

129. New Jersey (from BUF)
130. Anaheim
131. Seattle
132. Columbus (from NJD)
133. Columbus
134. Detroit
135. San Jose
136. Los Angeles
137. Vancouver
138. Detroit (from OTT via MTL)
139. Arizona
140. Vancouver (from CHI)
141. Calgary
142. Montreal (from PHI)
143. Dallas
144. NY Rangers
145. St. Louis
146. Winnipeg
147. Nashville
148. Anaheim (from EDM via OTT)
149. Boston
150. Minnesota
151. Washington
152. Florida
153. Toronto
154. Pittsburgh
155. Vegas (from CAR)
156. San Jose (from COL)
157. NY Islanders
158. Philadelphia (from VGK via WSH)
159. Buffalo (from MTL)
160. Tampa Bay

Round 6

161. Buffalo
162. Anaheim
163. Seattle
164. New Jersey
165. Columbus
166. Detroit
167. San Jose
168. Los Angeles
169. Vancouver
170. Ottawa
171. Arizona
172. Chicago
173. Calgary
174. Philadelphia
175. Dallas
176. NY Rangers
177. St. Louis
178. Vancouver (from WPG)
179. Nashville
180. Edmonton
181. Boston
182. Minnesota
183. Washington
184. Florida
185. Toronto
186. Edmonton (from PIT)
187. Carolina
188. Buffalo (from COL)
189. NY Islanders
190. Vegas
191. Montreal
192. Tampa Bay

Round 7

193. Buffalo
194. Pittsburgh (from ANA)
195. Seattle
196. Tampa Bay (from NJD)
197. Columbus
198. St. Louis (from DET)
199. San Jose
200. Carolina (from LAK)
201. Vancouver
202. Ottawa
203. New Jersey (from ARI)
204. Chicago
205. Calgary
206. Philadelphia
207. Dallas
208. NY Rangers
209. Carolina (from STL)
210. Florida (from WPG)
211. Tampa Bay (from NSH)
212. Edmonton
213. Boston
214. Minnesota
215. Pittsburgh (from WSH)
216. Chicago (from FLA)
217. Boston (from TOR)
218. Pittsburgh
219. Carolina
220. Colorado
221. NY Islanders
222. Vegas
223. Montreal
224. Tampa Bay


Tag(s): State Of Hockey  Bryan Zollman