As discussion around Mason McTavish‘s potential as a top ten pick continues to heat up, another top center prospect seems to have been forgotten: Chaz Lucius. Will Steve Yzerman rebuke the draft boards and reach for Lucius at 6?
Projected just outside the top ten, Lucius is expected to be one of the top centers taken in the draft. Although 2021 started off with an injury, Lucius was eventually able to illustrate his skills in the USHL and eventually with the U.S. U-18 team. In 12 USHL games, he managed to net 13 goals and five assists. Lucius continued to impress with his scoring ability on the national team, scoring 13 goals and seven assists in just 13 games.
Elite Goal Scorer
As the stats illustrate, Lucius is a high-end goal scorer. He possesses a variety of lethal shooting types; a rocket of a one-timer from the point, a quick wrister from close range and even a crafty backhand at the front of the net.
A vast, vast majority of Lucius tape consists of impressive shots from almost any point on the ice. However, lost in the craze about his scoring ability is his overall offensive skill set. While his skating will probably force a team to pass over him in the top ten (Not especially skilled or speedy for so high in the draft), his stick handling, hands and vision with the puck make up for it.
Although he’s not necessarily a two-way player, Lucius keeps the energy even without the puck in the offensive zone, often hounding the puck to force turnovers. He’ll harass opposing defensemen into either an ill-advised pass or an easy turnover.
However, his play in the defensive zone needs plenty of work. Lucius is not often very active across his own blue line, occasionally looking a bit lost when playing the role as a defender. To properly transition his game to an NHL level, he needs to develop that all-important two way game and improve his skating.
Does Yzerman Risk It?
There’s no question that Lucius is a highly talented prospect with a a load of potential. But with the 6th overall pick, he’s still quite the risk.
Steve Yzerman has already shown his disregard for commonly held opinions on prospects on the day of the draft. There was no way Yzerman was letting Moritz Seider out of his grasp; although most pundits considered Seider a mid-first round pick, Yzerman went out a got the guy that fit his plan best. So if there’s an argument against Yzerman drafting Lucius, it’s not the mock drafts. The more relevant information here is the lack of a defensive motor for Lucius; ask Anthony Mantha what looking lost on defense will do to forward in the organization. But if Yzerman thinks he can iron out some of the more glaring issues (Defense and skating), don’t be surprised if Yzerman bucks the trend and snags perhaps the best scorer in the draft. For an organization in need of center depth, Lucius provides the upside of a second liner with scary scoring potential. Although McTavish is trending upwards (Especially in relation to Detroit), the elite scoring and impressive offensive toolbox of Lucius might be too impressive to ignore.