Top prospect for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft Chaz Lucius returned from a lower-body injury and scored two goals in his season debut. Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield scored again for Wisconsin bringing his league-leading total to 18 on the season. Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Alec Regula scored his first career AHL goal on Thursday.
Lucius Scores Twice in Season Debut
Lucius, the United States National Team Development Program forward, is primed to make a late push up draft boards. The 17-year old is a gifted goal scorer who has been sidelined all year with a lower-body injury. He returned to action last night in the best way possible, recording two goals in the USNTDP’s 5-4 victory over the Chicago Steel.
He’s got a lot of ground to make up to get back into the discussion as a top ten pick for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but with a few more performances like these, it won’t be long before he’s back in the picture. At the end of last season, he was considered by some as the best forward available in the draft and the best player from a stacked USNTDP class.
Former THW writer Josh Bell broke down Lucius’ goal-scoring ability in his ‘5 USNTDP Players to Watch’ article from earlier this year.
While the 2020 NHL Draft has a few players who enter the conversation of best shot (sidebar: it’s Alexander Holtz), Lucius should have that in the bag for the 2021 edition. He has a nose for the back of the net and his shot has the speed and strength to force its way through. Not that it needs to, as he can pick corners with relative ease. Lucius used this goalscoring ability to put on a show at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, leading the tournament in goals (seven) and points (10), while winning the silver medal and earning a spot on the All-Star Team. In 2020-21, look for Lucius to put up Cole Caufield-like numbers.
It won’t take long for Lucius to get some more games under his belt. The USNTDP has five straight games on their schedule that began last night against Chicago. They play Muskegon, Chicago and Green Bay twice over the next four days. Premier goal scorers are always in high demand and Lucius could be the very best in this year’s draft. That alone will see him rise in the rankings as he gets more reps this season.
Caufield Keeps Scoring For Wisconsin
Canadiens prospect Caufield continues to rack up goals in the NCAA. He broke a rare two-game goal drought by recording a goal in Wisconsin’s 4-2 victory over Notre Dame yesterday night. The goal was his 18th of the season and brings him within one goal of his totals from his rookie season in 13 fewer games played. Caufield seemingly doesn’t have anything left to prove in the NCAA.
Through 23 games, he leads all players in scoring with 18 goals and 17 assists for 35 points. Caufield also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship when he recorded two goals and three assists in seven games played. He was Big Ten Rookie of the Year and Scoring Champion during the 2019-20 season, so it’s no a surprise he will be challenging for the NCAA scoring title this season.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin mentioned to the media that he expects Caufield to turn pro and join the NHL club once his sophomore season with Wisconsin comes to an end. The Canadiens have gotten off to an impressive 9-4-2 start to the 2020-21 NHL season and rank fifth in goal scoring. Adding a player of Caufield’s ability to the fold bodes well for Montreal’s playoff chances next season. He’ll be one of the favorites for the Calder Trophy in the 2021-22 NHL season.
Regula Scores First AHL Goal
Blackhawks prospect Regula recorded his first AHL goal in the Rockford IceHogs 3-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday night. It was the 20-year old defenseman’s fifth game of the season and brings his totals to one goal and one assist. Drafted 67th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, he was acquired by the Blackhawks for Brendan Perlini in Oct. of 2019. He spent the last three seasons with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League amassing 45 goals and 79 assists for 124 points in 189 games played.
He had the most goals by a defenseman in the OHL last season with 27, leading Noel Hoefenmayer by one goal. Regula will likely require a few seasons in the AHL before we see him get a shot with the Blackhawks. However, he’s got all the tools to be an NHL defenseman and the added experience at the pro level should bode well for his development.