Jets draft forward Chaz Lucius 18th overall

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WINNIPEG — Chaz Lucius wasn't shy about mentioning his admiration of Jets star Mark Scheifele in his pre-draft interview with Winnipeg

The honesty obviously worked — Winnipeg selected to select Lucius 18th overall in the NHL entry draft on Friday.

The six-foot-one, 185-pound centre is excited about the chance to work and train alongside a player he's long admired.

“I really look up to up to Mark Scheifele. He’s a guy I try to model my game after," Lucius said. "It’s pretty cool that now that I've been drafted by the Jets and to have him in as an idol of mine. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity there and I’ll keep watching his games.”

Lucius comes to Winnipeg from the U.S. National Team Development Program where he tallied 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists) in 13 games after recovering from a knee injury last season.

The adversity he faced probably helped the dynamic forward land with the Jets, said Winnipeg's general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

“We’re real excited. I think it’s a good value pick where we got it," he said. "A really skilled player, a really good character player.”

Lucius was the No. 12-ranked North American skater and is set to play at the University of Minnesota next fall.

He's looking forward, though, to eventually joining the Jets' ranks.

“(Winnipeg's) a really fun team to watch, fast paced," he said. "There’s a really bright future for the Winnipeg Jets and I’m just looking forward to being a part of it.

The draft is being held virtually for the second year in a row, so Cheveldayoff announced the selection via video from the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg finished the regular season third in the North Division with a 30-23-3 record and swept the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. The Jets struggled in round two, however, and were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in a four-game series.

The Jets will have three more picks to make (No. 50, 82, 146) when the draft resumes with the second round on Saturday.

Winnipeg took centre Cole Perfetti 10th overall in the 2020 draft.

The 19-year-old from Whitby, Ont., spent last season with the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, and registered 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 32 games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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