Minnesota traded their 3rd and 4th Round picks to Vancouver, in order to jump up (seems to be a reoccuring trend in Wild Drafts to not have a 2nd round pick, and we don't have one next year either) and grab Wayzata High School Forward Mario Lucia.
I sigh not because of the pick- a scout I talked to lauded the fact that Minnesota got great value in where they got him as he had Lucia rated much higher- and while Lucia will be a long term development project, there is some great upside to the son of University of Minnesota Coach Don Lucia. I like the pick alot; in a sense it may be similar to Jason Zucker, whom The Wild jumped up (dealt their 3rd and 4th Rounders) to grab at the end of the 2nd last year. Clearly Brent Flahr and his merry band of scouts felt that Lucia wasn't going to be there at 70, so they went and got him. I hate to reference the Quality vs. Quantity post again, but there are traits in Lucia's game that made the Staff feel that he can be a real player. Hell, this Mario Lucia post is the most viewed post in FRB history (a long and storied one)- chances are you know too, that the kid has potential.
...And the downside to this?
We will be peppered with the local boy storylines, the accusations of pandering to a fanbase, and the rampant expectations of the insatiable provincialists that will now turn their microscopes toward young Mr. Lucia. Its on message boards, in the papers, and on the news, despite Assistant GM Brent Flahr's insistence on it being a coincidence.
The poor kid- on no doubt a tremendous day for an 18 year old (he was all smiles,) there is no doubt that he's got the spotlight on him from all angles; he's a Minnesota High School kid, just drafted by the Minnesota Wild, and the son of University of Minnesota Coach Don- there's a lot of interested parties now.
The next step for Lucia is deciding where to play next; He will be playing in either the United States Hockey League for The Des Moines Buccaneers, or the British Columbia Hockey League for The Pencticton Vees.
Lucia's rights where owned by Sioux Falls, who shopped them around the league. According to a source, the rights were offered to The Chicago Steel for the 1st Overall Pick in the USHL Draft, but neither Mario nor Don would commit to The Steel, nixing a possible deal.
What is intriguing is that the same source told me that Mario's destination could potentially be affected by where The U of M thinks its best for his development- He is believed to be leaning toward Des Moines, but the Reilly Brothers, a trio from Eden Prairie, have committed to Penticton this fall before enrolling at Minnesota. Mike Reilly, who was taken 98th overall today by Columbus, has stated be plans on enlisting Lucia to Penticton.
Even when the next step is figured out, the decision on college remains on the horizon- The U, playing for his Father, or his Father's Alma Mater, Notre Dame?
Then again, for a hometown kid drafted by the hometown team, every decision now looms large under the spotlight of the hometown fans.