Cruz Lucius – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Cruz Lucius

2021-22 Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL)
Date of Birth: April 5, 2004
Place of Birth: Grant, MN, USA
Ht: 6-feet Wt: 176 pounds
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible

Rankings

Cruz Lucius played his midget hockey with Gentry Academy, recording two eye-catching seasons. In his 15U season, he scored nine goals and 32 assists through just 13 games. He followed that up with 28 goals and 40 assists in 20 games in his 16U season.

Cruz Lucius USNTDP
Cruz Lucius, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

From there, Lucius went on to play for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). Last season, he played 42 games with the U.S. National U17 Team at a point-per-game pace, posting 14 goals and 28 assists. He also played 26 games with the USNTDP Juniors team and put up six goals and 12 assists.

This season, Lucius played few games because of an injury, which will likely hurt his position in the draft. He scored seven goals and three assists in 15 games with the U.S. National U18 Team and five goals and two assists in 10 games with the USNTDP Juniors team.

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Lucius has an impressive offensive skill set. Many label him a playmaker who can create chances and dish the puck. However, his goal-scoring ability cannot be overlooked. He has a good set of hands and a lethal shot that has gone under the radar; if Lucius is left open in the slot, he’ll probably bury one.

There aren’t many holes in his game, but, like many his age, he could always work on adding size and getting stronger. This will be extremely valuable for his game, as he will be able to retrieve pucks easier, allowing him to put his offensive tools to work.

Lucius has committed to playing for the University of Minnesota next season. His brother — Chaz Lucius — was drafted 18th overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets and is now playing for the University of Minnesota, where he finished seventh on the team with nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season and was selected to play for Team USA at the 2022 World Junior Championship (WJC).

Other THW Draft Profiles

Cruz Lucius – NHL Draft Projection

Lucius has mostly been ranked around the mid-to-late second round. However, considering his injury issues and limited viewings by scouts this season, it is not unreasonable to think he might slide down. If a team isn’t willing to take a risk in the second round, he could become one of the steals of the draft.

Quotables

“I’ve found evaluating Lucius in the early days to be an interesting exercise and challenge because it’s easy to look at his numbers (which tilt to the assist column) and his past play as the facilitator in minor hockey to his brother Chaz (a natural goal scorer) and assume that he’s a pass-first winger. While there’s some truth to those assumptions, I also think they have miscast him this season.

And so does he (I asked him). In fact, he’ll be the first to tell you that he fancies himself a goal scorer, which will make watching him try to do that a little more this season particularly fascinating. He’s got playmaking instincts and a strong understanding of how to use time and space to his advantage to make plays through layers to his teammates and facilitate. He’s got the quick hands that his brother has. But he’s also a threat to score around the slot, and I suspect that will shine through more this season” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from ‘The 2022 NHL Draft: Wheeler ranks his top 32 prospects in preseason,’ Sept. 15, 2021).

“Lucius is an offensive-leaning winger who excelled in this viewing as a puck distributor and playmaker. The standout aspect of Lucius’ game was his excellent playmaking vision and how he was able to combine that trait with his smooth puck skills.” – Brandon Holmes, FC Hockey

Strengths

  • Hands
  • Playmaking ability
  • Shot

Under Construction – Improvements to Make

  • Size/strength

NHL Potential

It’s always hard to predict where a prospect might end up in an NHL lineup, but it is especially difficult when it comes to a player like Lucius, who hasn’t seen a lot of ice this season. That said, I could see him as a very solid middle-six forward who can contribute offensively by distributing the puck and getting off quick shots from the slot.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 7/10, Defense – 6.5/10

Awards/Achievements

Lucius was selected to play in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game. He was not able to play in the game, however, due to injury.

Interview/Profile Links

Cruz Lucius Statistics

Videos



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