The Winnipeg Jets have locked up a player it hopes is an important piece of the club’s future.
The team announced it agreed to terms with Chaz Lucius on a three-year, entry level contract just a few minutes before their game against Philadelphia Wednesday night.
The deal, which begins next season, carries an average annual value in the National Hockey League of $1,325,000.
Lucius, who turns 19 years old May 2, was the team’s first-round National Hockey League draft choice last June, 18th overall.
The deal means Lucius, a Lawrence, Kansas native, will forego the rest of his college eligibility, and will spend next season in Winnipeg — whether that’s as a member of the Jets, or the Manitoba Moose.
He posted 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 24 games during his first season with the University of Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers fell in the national semifinal earlier this month to Minnesota State Mavericks.
Before that, he spent time in the USHL with the United States National Development Team, where he inevitably caught the eye of Jets management.
Lucius also donned the red, white and blue for the USA at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
That tournament was cut short due to COVID-19, but Lucius could return when it resumes in Alberta later this summer.
When Lucius was selected by Winnipeg in the 2021 draft, he became the Jets’ second consecutive first-round choice at the centre position, after Cole Perfetti in 2020.
After Wednesday’s game against the Flyers, Winnipeg has just two games left in its season: Friday night against Calgary, and Sunday afternoon against Seattle.