Aside from having one of the coolest names I’ve ever seen, Chaz Lucius is quite the unique prospect. Possessing one of the best shots in the entire draft, the Winnipeg Jets were wise to jump on the opportunity to select him, taking him 18th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
If you’ve followed the Jets for the past four-plus seasons, you’d know that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is quite familiar with drafting offensively driven players. Whether it be Kyle Connor from 2015, Patrik Laine the following year, or Cole Perfetti from last season, the Jets seem to take a liking to those who can find the back of the net, and Lucius adds to that narrative.
A product from the coveted United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), Lucius is committed to play next season at the University of Minnesota in the NCAA. In comparison to other top prospects from today’s hockey era, NHL hopefuls typically spend a couple of seasons with their collegiate team in order to develop into a more NHL-ready player.
So while it may be a while before we see Lucius play in Manitoba, he was well worth the 18th overall selection. And from a Jets perspective, fans and management alike should be ecstatic to have another sniper joining the fold.
Lucius Brings All-Around Offensive Ability
The main focal point that made Lucius so appealing to the Jets is his knack for goalscoring. Rarely do we see such gifted offensive minds fall as far as 18th overall, but with Lucius being hampered by a significant knee injury at the beginning of last season, the Minnesota native was still around when Kevin Cheveldayoff appeared on screen.
Lucius possesses a diverse arsenal when it comes to his mindset in the offensive zone. His ability to find open space and use it to his advantage has become a mainstay within his game, and has largely contributed to his success through the upper echelons of hockey. Having the ability to fire the puck with both precision and quickness continues to give Lucius an edge over other goalscorers, something that will continue to be essential at the NHL level.
In addition to having a shoot-first mentality, Lucius is also quite crafty in all quadrants of the offensive zone. His stickhandling allows him to protect the puck from his opponents, simultaneously maintaining a cycle for his teammates. Often using quick passes to glide into the offensive end, Lucius is seemingly always looking for the puck, an important trait to possess at the NHL level.
While Lucius does have some work to do in terms of skating and mechanics, the raw, natural talent is undeniably there. His upcoming stint with the University of Minnesota should provide him plenty of time to develop his game away from the puck before he joins the Jets organization full-time.
Mark Scheifele’s Mentorship Should Work Wonders for Lucius
Lucius and Perfetti have a couple of things in common. The first is that both are prolific offensive threats. The second is that they both look up to Mark Scheifele. After being selected by the Jets, Lucius was quick to point out his excitement about joining the same team as his idol, Mark Scheifele.
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“[Scheifele’s] a guy that I really try to model my game after and it’s pretty cool now that I’ve been drafted by the Jets and having him as an idol of mine,” said Lucius. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity there and I’ll keep watching his game.” (Ken Wiebe, Sportsnet).
While Scheifele himself is still in the midst of improving his defensive game, he’s been one of the league’s most consistent producers, a fitting comparable to Lucius, as he develops towards his NHL career. Both players hold similar comparables to one another, and while Lucius seems to be more effective at finding the back of the net, the 18-year-old should greatly benefit from having Scheifele’s mentorship and guidance towards evolving into a more complete player.
Lucius seems to be joining the perfect organization to reach his full NHL potential. It’s an organization that not only has experience drafting offensively-minded players, but one that also has the tools to develop them into NHL-ready players. We’ve seen it with Connor, we’ve seen it with Laine (ignoring the off-ice controversies), and both Cole Perfetti and Lucius himself seem to be next in line.
Slowly but Surely, Jets Are Stockpiling a Plethora of Goal Scoring Options
All in all, the Jets are adding another grade A prospect to their collection, a collection that was once viewed as “middle of the road.” While it certainly isn’t the best prospect pool in the league, players like Lucius are those that help an organization get there. Add him to a mix that already has Perfetti and the Jets are developing two elite offensive players to complement an already talented forward group.
What’s more, is that Lucius already has the raw potential needed to succeed at the next level. He should have no problems developing within the NCAA and in a couple of years time, we could have yet another elite goalscorer poised to make his mark in the NHL.
Kevin Cheveldayoff did a phenomenal job taking advantage of his opportunities on draft day, and now has another strong centre with a nose for the net. Should Lucius continue to trend in the right direction, the Jets will soon have an offensive core that’s matched by few, as they continue to stockpile offensively driven prospects.
Currently a sport media student at Ryerson University in Toronto, Josh Kim is a freelance photographer and journalist with The Hockey Writers. Having worked within the ECHL, PWHPA, and OHL in a variety of content-based roles, Josh has been working in sports for the past 5+ years and currently finds himself working with Ryerson athletics as a sports photographer. With The Hockey Writers, Josh chases feature stories while also covering the Winnipeg Jets, the World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft. While hockey continues to be his main focus, Josh is also a fully credentialed WNBA writer and the host of the Get Your Head in the Game podcast, which emphasizes the connection between mental health and sport. If you’re interested in seeing a full display of his work, if you’ve got a story tip, or just want to get in touch, please find Josh’s socials linked below his articles and visit his website: joshkimphoto.com