2011 prospects: Mario Lucia top Minnesota high school product

By DJ Powers

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Mario Lucia is the highest ranked Minnesota high school player eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft and for good reason. (Photo courtesy of www.mnhockeyhub.com)

A Plymouth, MN native, Mario Lucia began the 2010-11 season with a brief stint with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) before returning to Wayzata High School. He finished his junior season leading the Trojans in goal scoring with 30, second on the team with 54 points, and was a plus-34 in 27 games. His outstanding year earned Lucia an honorable mention to the AP Minnesota All-State Team.

The youngest son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, Mario is also arguably the most coveted non-committed players as well. Although he won’t matriculate until the fall of 2012, Lucia has narrowed down his collegiate choices to the University of Minnesota and the University of Notre Dame. Among the other schools reportedly interested in the young forward were Colorado College and the University of Denver. He could potentially begin playing this fall with Des Moines, who currently holds his USHL rights.

Talent Analysis

Lucia is a tall, lanky winger that is blessed with silky smooth hands and superb puck skills. Simply put, whenever he has the puck on his stick, he is dangerous. And it is those puck skills, along with his size and skating that have scouts raving about Lucia. He has excellent finishing ability and is really creative with the puck. Lucia’s slick puck-moving ability isn’t just limited to scoring goals either. He can also thread some of the prettiest tape-to-tape passes as well. Lucia moves exceedingly well with the puck, showing tremendous poise and patience. He also makes good decisions with the puck too.

Fairly mobile for his size, he skates with very fluid strides, and accelerates quite well. He is agile, and for a 17-year-old, is also very strong on his skates. One thing that Lucia did quite well this season was consistently keeping his feet moving.

Lucia utilizes his 6’2 frame and long reach quite advantageously. Where this is particularly evident is in how he protects the puck. He also uses his size and strength really well in front of the net, where he can often be found. Although he’s not an overly physical player, he isn’t afraid to play the body when necessary either.

Another attribute of Lucia’s to receive the attention of many in the scouting community is his terrific shot and release. He possesses a hard shot with a blisteringly quick release. Lucia’s ability to pick his spots allows him to get shots through more consistently.

In addition to his many offensive skills, Lucia also possesses great hockey sense and on-ice vision. Another area that makes him so lethal is his ability to follow and anticipates plays.

Lucia’s greatest weakness is his lanky frame. As his 6’2 frame continues to develop and mature, it will only enhance all of his abilities and make him that much more of a threat. And it is also why Lucia’s potential and upside are so great.

Future

Lucia is ranked 34th among all North American skaters appearing on Central Scouting’s final ranking. He is projected to go in the top half of the second round.