As the draft draws nearer, the Kings face the possibility of highly sought after blueliners being unavailable. They have their most recent top picks be forwards. The last time Los Angeles’ first pick was a defenseman was Kale Clague in 2016. The last time their first pick was a defender in the first round? Derek Forbort in 2010.
Getting the right player in the right position is a balancing act, and with four rearguards who sit consistently in the top-10, Rob Blake may be hard-pressed to ensure he can snag one at eighth.
We have looked at a couple forwards earlier, and it may be a good time to have a stretch of examining a few more who may be in the Kings’ sights.
CHAZ LUCIUS
Vitals
Date of Birth: May 2, 2003
Height: 6’0
Weight: 172 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Forward
2020-21 Season
Lucius spent the entire 2020-21 season playing for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He scored 20 points (13 G, 7 A) in 13 games.
Go-pher It
The native of Grant, Minnesota won’t move too far away from home for his collegiate career. He is committed to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, wearing the same logo as Kings top defensive prospect Brock Faber.
Limited Viewings
The skilled forward missed out on a few opportunities to strut his stuff. A lower-body injury sidelined him for the first chunk of the season. A COVID protocol just before the U-18 tournament disqualified him from participating, further separating him from the eyes of scouts.
My Hockey Academia
While athletics run in the Lucius family, Chaz and his younger brother can be considered the first generation hockey players. He started playing hockey at the age of eight, which is a later start compared to other hockey hopefuls.
To develop their children’s hockey skills further, Chuck and Tami Lucius founded the Gentry Academy. Chaz honed his abilities until he had the opportunity to join the USNTDP.
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
Ranked 16th by The Draft Analyst. “Lucius is another prospect who once was hyped as a potential top-five pick before falling to the middle of the first-round pack. Although he’s not your classic NTDP center in that he’s more of a natural goal scorer than a playmaker (13 goals and 7 assists in his injury-shortened season), Lucius also chips in at the faceoff dot and makes up for average speed with excellent balance and puck protection.”
Ranked 12th by Future Considerations. One of their writers watched the All-American Prospects Game. Part of the report includes this information: “Given Lucius’ start to the season, I was expecting him to show off his shooting and goal scoring ability. In this game he shifted focus showing his ability to create offense for his teammates. Lucius was active on the rush, taking the puck over the blue line and looking for passing lanes all night and if a lane wasn’t there he used his shot to create rebounds for his teammates.”
Ranked 9th by Bob McKenzie’s Poll of Scouts. “USA U-18 program forward Chaz Lucius checks in at No. 9. He missed the first half of the season with a leg injury, but since returning has been scoring goals and establishing his credentials as a Top-10 prospect.”
See For Yourself
DobberProspects did a breakdown of a few different games to highlight different aspects of Lucius’ game.

Final Comments
We know. “Really? Another center? Byfield, Andersson, Vilardi, Turcotte, and JAD aren’t enough?”
Keep in mind it’s easier to transition from center to wing than from wing to center. As such, it’s better to view any center as a “forward.” Centers also have more value than wingers when everything else is equal. One of the reasons the philosophy is “draft best player available” is because the value can be traded later to address needs.
He’s capable in a key position at center, plays a 200-foot game, and wields an arsenal of weapons to put points on the board. Along with needing defense, consistent offense from young players would benefit Los Angeles. This isn’t a remark against any of the youth already in the organization. It’s simply important to stock your cupboards and challenge the youth to step up and take over.
It wouldn’t be an immediate return, however. His commitment to Minnesota will have him developing for at least a couple seasons. Lucius has a great skill set already, and the time in college will be a great opportunity to develop his strength.
The sniper would be a low-maintenance player as far as becoming an NHLer – the biggest obstacle would be to elevate his skating to a higher level. Keep in mind it’s never about making a player look like they have rockets attached to their feet. There are mechanics and techniques to improve edgework and strides. These little improvements will improve balance, mobility, and efficiency. Ontario Reign’s head coach, John Wroblewski, has also had a hand in the early formation of this talented player. The two were acquainted during the 2019-20 season, when Lucius was on the U-17 junior team.
It may appear to be a reach at eighth overall, as rankings vary in placing him as low as the teens. However, there aren’t many forwards who get consistent high rankings among the rest (such as Eklund, Beniers, Lysell and Johnson). Lucius ranks consistently among them. More than anything, he simply hasn’t been seen as often as others due to an injury early in the year and COVID protocol keeping him out of the U-18s. If the Kings like him enough, it wouldn’t be unheard of to snag a player a few spots earlier to make sure they get “their guy.”
NOTE: David Hofreiter was the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article. You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.


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