Wayzata's Mario Lucia, right, is expected to be selected in the first or second round of the NHL Draft. Photo by Helen Nelson
Mario Lucia is going to be at Xcel Energy Center on Friday, with 40 or so family members and friends.
He is hoping to be picked in the first round of the NHL entry draft that night. The second through seventh rounds will be Saturday.
"Realistically, I will probably go early in the second round," said Lucia, a left winger for Wayzata High School last season. "But all it takes is for one team to like me, then it's over with [the first day]."
NHL Central Scouting rates Lucia 34th among North American skaters and the best high school prospect.
"I'm really looking forward to [the draft]," the 6-2, 183-pounder said. "With the whole thing being in Minnesota, my friends and family can all be there and the state will be behind me. I could be the first pick from Minnesota."
Perhaps. Of the 30 NHL teams, 21 interviewed him at the scouting combine in Toronto last month. Several teams, including the Wild, have met with him since. He has one final meeting with Dallas on Thursday for lunch and a psychological test.
With input from the NHL team that drafts him, Lucia said he will decide next month where he will play as a high school senior. His choices are Des Moines of the U.S. Hockey League or Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League.
Lucia, the younger of Gophers coach Don Lucia's two sons, also will choose a college this summer. "When your dad is a coach, it's tougher to pick," Lucia said. "Obviously, I want to play for my dad, but I'd be the coach's kid."
His brother Tony stayed home and said he spent much of his Gophers career trying to prove himself. So Mario Lucia's short list of college choices remains at three: Minnesota, Notre Dame and Colorado College.