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2011 NHL Draft Prospect: Mario Lucia

Name: Mario Lucia

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 182 lbs.

10-11 team: Wayzata(Minn.) High School

10-11 stats: 27 games, 30 goals, 24 assists, 54 points

Prospect Info:

Mario Lucia is perhaps best known for being the youngest son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. But the lanky forward started making a name for himself in the past year-and-a-half as he began to grow into his body, and developed into the top draft prospect in Minnesota high school hockey.

He spent the early part of this past season with the US National Development Program before returning to Wayzata for the high school hockey season. Lucia is still undecided on his college destination. He's likely to choose between Minnesota and Notre Dame shortly after the NHL Draft. Next season, he will play either with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL or Penticton Vees of the USHL.

Lucia has a very good frame at well over 6 feet tall, but is still incredibly lanky and is working to add more muscle. His best asset is his stick-handling and puck possession abilities. He's a very poised player that sees the ice well.

Links of Interest:

A Guy You Should Know: Mario Lucia-Bruins Draft Watch-December 2010

NHL Draft Profile: Mario Lucia-First Round Bust- January 2011

Hometown Boy Hoping for Memorable NHL Draft- NHL.com- March 2011

On WCH...

June 7, 2010: " Don Lucia's son Mario was one of the more exciting forwards at the camp, though he's a very skinny kid right now."

December 1, 2010: "Mario Lucia is Minnesota high school hockey's one big hope at this summer's NHL Draft. There were probably about a dozen NHL scouts at the game. He probably would have been better off staying with the NTDP or playing in the USHL this year where he would have been pushed a little bit more, but because of who is dad is, leaving in the fall probably wasn't an option because it would have been a public relations disaster for the U. Next year, when it's almost a guarantee that he'll play in the USHL, it will be a little different, because he can leave earlier in the summer, when not as many people are paying attention to hockey, he'll possibly have a state title under his belt, and the average fan will be able to see a more quantifiable measure of his talent with where he is picked in the NHL Draft.

Anyway, Lucia isn't quite a finished product, but there's a lot to like about the way he plays, and he's got loads of upside that could make him great in the future. He's still incredibly lanky, but it looks like he's starting to fill out a little more, and will almost undoubtedly get stronger in the future. He's a smooth skater and has excellent hockey sense.

Where would I put him in the draft? It was an interesting comparison seeing him less than a week apart from forward draft prospects like Brandon Saad, Stefan Noesen, Vince Trocheck, and Rickard Rakell. Foremost, it highlights to me the extreme difficulty for scouts to compare players who are playing against vastly different levels of talent. If I were ranking just those five, I'd got Saad, Noesen, Lucia, Rakell, Trocheck. In the grand scheme of things, I'd probably start looking at Lucia in the mid-second to early third rounds of the draft."

Final Analysis

Many people listed Lucia as a first round draft pick, if only because it has become an assumption that the top high school player in Minnesota is a first round draft pick. That may not necessarily be the case this year though.

Lucia is a player with high potential, but also comes with a fair amount of risk. Whether he is picked on Friday or Saturday will likely depend on if a team believes that he can put on a lot more muscle and play a more physical type of game. Also, if Lucia is serious about playing in the less physical BCHL next year, and then playing for his dad at Minnesota--something that proved difficult for his older brother Tony, nevermind the problems Minnesota has had developing late-first/early second round picks in recent years-- then that may also raise some red flags.

There's a lot of unknowns, but there also aren't many players in the draft with the offensive sense that Lucia has, and even fewer with NHL size and that ability. I probably wouldn't use a first round pick on Lucia, but he would have nice value if he was picked any time after that.