Deep in the throes of a from-the-ground-up rebuild, the Detroit Red Wings continue to have holes to fill within their lineup, and it’s the usual suspects are frequently called out. Goaltending and defense lead the way, mostly because their long-term goalie outlook is bleak, while their defensive output remains near the bottom of the league.
Even though that side of the puck requires a lot of attention, perhaps what has been most alarming the past few seasons is the team’s inability to generate any offense. Prospect Chaz Lucius can help change that in a hurry.
Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage
Last season Detroit scored the second-fewest goals of any team last season (125, just one more than the Anaheim Ducks), and were also second-worst in power play percentage, clocking in at a stunningly dreadful 11.4%. Lucius’ high-octane scoring ability makes him an incredibly tempting option in this year’s NHL Entry Draft — the only question remaining is will the timing be right between either of the team’s two first-round picks?
General Manager Steve Yzerman has already shown: Expect the unexpected.
Making the Most Out of Limited Time This Season
Lucius had limited playing time in the early throws of last season due to a knee injury, but even that couldn’t slow his incredible scoring ability. In 12 games with the US National Team Development Program’s (USNTDP) Junior team (USHL), he recorded 18 points on 13 goals and five assists. Following that, he notched 20 points on 13 goals and seven assists in just 13 games with the US National U18 Team.
Simply put, the kid can score. A lot.
Yes, Lucius has a fantastic hockey name, and that’s been well documented. But that just scratches the surface, because the 18-year-old’s craftiness is incredibly dangerous to the opposition, consistently creating opportunities even when time and space are limited. His arsenal of offensive weapons include an incredibly smooth, nasty wrist shot, but the right-hander’s devastating one-timer could do some real damage on the power play — just what the Red Wings need.
Since 2018, he’s been no stranger to accolades, either. In the 2018-19 season, he was first in both goals (39) and points (62) in the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL- AAA), and that was in 13 games! He followed that up in 2019-20 by recording the most goals (7) and most points (10) in the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, where he won a silver medal and was named to the tournament’s All-Star team.
Lucius is decidedly not NHL ready, and will hone his skills at the University of Minnesota this upcoming season. There’s certainly a fair amount of maturation necessary in his game, highlighted mostly by his size and explosiveness. Ranked anywhere from ninth to 19th on the major draft boards, the 6-foot, 172 pound American needs to bulk up to be successful in the league. He’s relatively defensively sound, but needs to improve his acceleration for his high-scoring game to translate into the NHL.
What They’re Saying
The pundits don’t have many mixed feelings around Lucius, who is basically a no-brainer to land somewhere in the first round. See for yourself:
“A threat with the puck anywhere in the offensive zone, Lucius combines crafty hands with a quick release on his shot to make for a goal-scoring weapon” — Joey Padmanabhan, eprinkside.com
“The one aspect of Chaz Lucius’ game where there aren’t many questions to be asked is his talent in the offensive zone. Simply put, he scores goals. A lot of them.” — Paul Zuk, Smaht Scouting
“A supremely skilled forward who has elite IQ. He has a knack for finding the back of the net, scoring in a variety of ways.” — Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
Fit With The Red Wings
Lucius would fit in well as Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman looks to continue to stock the cupboards with talent, and while it’s become clear that captain Dylan Larkin may be destined for a role on the second line in the future, the battle for the team’s top-scoring center will continue to rage on.
The conundrum that Lucius provides for the Red Wings is their position in the draft. Their two first-round picks, No. 6 and No. 22, don’t make it an easy task to land the talented young forward. He’s a borderline top-10 pick, so it may be a jump for Yzerman to select him at sixth, yet it’s highly unlikely that he would slip all the way down to the 22nd spot. So, barring any sort of trade, it would likely be a Seider-like-shock if Lucius ends up as Detroit’s selection.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Still, with two Red Wings drafts under his belt already, Yzerman has already proven that it’s anyone guess on what to expect, though the Yzerplan is quite clearly in full motion.
Catch Up on Other Red Wing Draft Candidates:
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Covers the Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers.