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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mario Lucia: A guy you should know

When you're the son of the University of Minnesota's head coach and NCAA recruiters are hot on your tail, the inevitable whispers are going to crop up about potential nepotism, but in Mario Lucia's case, he's every bit the hockey prospect the buzz is indicating and is a legitimate get no matter where he ends up.

The Wayzata H.S. (Trojans) junior left wing who impressed with a limited stint on the U.S. NTDP Under-18 earlier this fall has a live frame (6-2, 185 pounds) and pure skills. He projects as one of those ultra-skilled top-six forwards who are becoming more the norm every year in the NHL.

With long limbs and a reach to match, the younger Lucia has good hands and hockey sense. He's very lanky and lacking in functional strength; as expected he doesn't play much of a physical game, but it is apparently not out of fear or reticence, because he will initiate contact. He just doesn't play much of a power game right now.

Here's what one NHL scout who saw him in action with the U.S. National Team earlier this season had to say about Don Lucia's youngest son:

"He's got real nice size, but it's his skating and hands that are most impressive to me. Unlike a lot of big kids, he's got a quick burst out of the blocks, and that long, smooth stride of his generates a lot of power. He's still a little gangly, but you can see the coordination coming into his body. He can handle the puck well at speed and has a deceptive shot that he gets off pretty quick. He also sees the ice nicely and is a good passer. If he has a big season, then I think you'll see him shoot up the boards like Nick Bjugstad did last year. He's not as big as Bjugstad, but is a little more skilled and polished, in my opinion. He's got a lot of weight to put on and has to get stronger, but this kid has a lot of upside."

Pretty lofty praise indeed.

Red Line Report has a nice profile on him in their December issue where he (not surprisingly) tops the list of Minnesota high schoolers (1 of 11), and the Hockey News has also gotten into the act, featuring him in their "Hot List" column last week.

Lucia's on the rise and looks like a legitimate first-rounder in June.

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