Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



One-and-done with Gophers as Chaz Lucius signs entry-level contract with Winnipeg Jets

After one productive but injury-shortened college hockey season, Minnesota Gophers freshman forward Chaz Lucius signed his first professional contract with designs on playing in the NHL next season.

Minnesota Gophers forward Chaz Lucius navigated the puck through a crowd of Ohio State Buckeyes in the first period of their game on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Samantha Hollingshead / @the_photo_queen

GRANT, Minn. — Folks who watched him play going all the way back to when he was 14 and verbally committed to the Minnesota Gophers felt that Chaz Lucius was a one-of-a-kind talent, who had a future in professional hockey. On Wednesday, the future arrived.

After one injury-shortened season of college hockey, Lucius inked a three-year entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets, who had picked him in the first round (18th overall) of the 2021 NHL Draft. He will be paid an average salary of $1.325 million if he plays at the NHL level.

“The biggest thing for me is I felt I was ready and able to make that jump,” Lucius said in a phone interview with The Rink Live. “I believe in myself, I believe in the people around me, I know that I’m going to put in a good summer of training and I’m ready for the next step.”

Lucius, who turns 19 next week and is listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, skated in 24 of the Gophers’ 39 games as a freshman, scoring nine goals and adding 10 assists. He missed time with a hand injury in November, then returned to the lineup and was a productive part of the “Niners” line with Ben Meyers and Matthew Knies in January.

“Chaz is one of the most impressive offensive players I have coached in my career. His ability to create offense at any moment on the ice is as high level as I’ve seen,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said in a statement released by the school. “He has a tremendous future ahead of him with the Winnipeg Jets organization, and we look forward to following what is sure to be a long and impressive pro career. We wish him the best as he takes the next step in his hockey career.”


In February, Lucius dealt with a lower body injury that would eventually spell the end of his season. He warmed up for a Feb. 19 game at Penn State but was pulled from the lineup due to the ailment and did not suit up for the Gophers again.

“It was definitely an up-and-down season, for sure,” he said. “The biggest things for me were the two injuries I dealt with. That’s out of my control but when I was healthy and going, I was very productive and I loved my time at the University of Minnesota. I wish the team nothing but the best.”

A prep state champion as a sophomore, Begley spent parts of the last two seasons in the NAHL, most recently with the Wisconsin Windigo where he was the team's top-scoring defenseman.
Starting next season, men's and women's season-ticket holders for the Minnesota Gophers will be able to return seats they cannot use and get credit for future season ticket purchases.
The defenseman originally from southern California was a four-year regular on the U of M blue line, and a first-round pick of Buffalo in 2019.
Transfers from St. Lawrence, Princeton and UMD will help bolster the Gophers on the back end next season as they try to find a way back to the Frozen Four and repeat as WCHA tourney champs.
The Minnesota Gophers center led the team in scoring on the way to a Big Ten title and a trip to the NCAA title game, and recently announced he will return for a sophomore college hockey season.
Fargo native Trent Wiemken has gone 8-1-1 in the Robertson Cup playoffs as the mainstay goalie for the Austin Bruins playoffs while working with former Minnesota Gophers goalie Nick Lehr's coaching.
The former Minnesota Mr. Hockey winner is coming off a senior campaign where he notched career highs in goals and points while playing right wing on the Gophers' second line much of the season.
When the vote to build a new Arizona Coyotes rink in Tempe failed, a big piece of their future decided that NHL hockey can wait another year, and Logan Cooley announced his return to the U of M.
After leading the Minnesota Gophers in all offensive categories as a freshman, the talented center from Pittsburgh will hold off on signing a pro contract and make another run at a NCAA title.
After coming to the U of M as a walk-on in 2019, Justen Close became the team's mainstay in goal in January 2022 and has backstopped two Big Ten titles and two Frozen Four trips.
The Minnesota Gophers' biggest body and top faceoff man scored his career-best 10th goal of the 2022-23 season in the second period of the NCAA title game in Tampa,
Murphy grew up in an Illinois family with two brothers who have played college sports, a mother who played college softball and a dad who was a Marine. She won gold last month with Team USA

Chaz and his younger brother, Cruz, famously committed to the Gophers when they were 14 and 13, respectively, back when age restrictions on recruiting were not in place. They both came up through the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Cruz is currently playing for Team USA at the U18 World Championships in Germany, and is committed to the U of M for next season.

Chaz had surgery to repair the lower body ailment following the Gophers’ trip to the Frozen Four and is taking classes remotely from the family’s home while he recovers.

Alaska vs Minnesota
Gophers forward Chaz Lucius was thwarted at the goalmouth by Alaska goalie Gustavs Grigals in the first period of Minnesota's 4-1 win over the Nanooks at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

“The recovery is going good. I get my stitches out tomorrow and after that it’s kind of a week-by-week thing,” he said on Wednesday evening. “Just taking it one day at a time to see how my ankle is reacting and feeling with movement and motion and go from there.”

The Jets noted that his contract begins with the start of next season.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
A fixture in the Motor City for decades, college hockey's most renowned holiday tournament seems to have found a home in Grand Rapids, Mich., with the announcement of the next four GLI fields.
Todd Inkrott and new Badgers hockey coach Mike Hastings had worked together for more than a decade at MSU Mankato. He becomes the latest former Mavs staffer to follow the coach east.
"We are excited to bring Nick and his family to the University of Wisconsin," head coach Mike Hastings said.
Paul Kirtland was a Mavericks assistant under former head coach Mike Hastings. He leaves the MSU program to return to his alma mater after Luke Strand was named the Mavs' head coach in April.
Get Local