TORONTO – Now that Notre Dame’s season is over, Wild prospect Mario Lucia will return home to Wayzata during the Easter holiday for a family discussion regarding his future.
The Wild is willing to sign the 2011 second-round draft pick to an entry-level contract, but Lucia first has to decide if he wants to return to school for his senior season.
He will meet soon with Notre Dame’s coaches, then return home to chat with his parents. Don Lucia, who coaches the Gophers, plans to give his son the pros and cons of leaving. Lucia said the decision will be up to Mario, who is well on his way to graduating with a degree in marketing.
There is no rush for Lucia to make a decision. He plans to finish the semester at Notre Dame, meaning he won’t sign an amateur tryout to play the rest of the reason in Iowa of the AHL. And he has no intent to try to pursue free agency.
If Lucia turns pro, it would be to sign with the Wild only and start in the fall. If Lucia returns for his senior season, the Wild maintains his rights.
Lucia, 21, has an NHL-caliber shot and size (6-3, 200 pounds). He tied for 13th in the nation with a team-high 21 goals his junior season and had a .210 shooting percentage. Irish leading scorer Vince Hinostroza, Lucia’s linemate, signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Back to the Island
Even though Thomas Vanek said his stint with the Islanders was only “a cup of coffee,” the Wild’s second-leading scorer is looking forward to returning to Long Island on Tuesday for the first time since being traded last season to Montreal.
“First time being booed there,” Vanek said, laughing.
Vanek, acquired from Buffalo in October 2013, scored 17 goals and 44 points in 47 games for the Islanders.
“I loved it on the Island,” Vanek said. “[General Manager Garth Snow] has done a lot of good things to get that team going. I loved the [Nassau] Coliseum. Nothing fancy in the locker room, but it was enough what we needed. And the crowds there were really loud actually. … They’re getting tremendous goaltending there [this season], which helps. We see it here. Goaltending is the all-in.”
Vanek’s plan was always to test free agency despite a reported seven-year, $50 million extension offered to him by Snow. He said though he also was hesitant to stay because of the team’s move next season to Brooklyn.
Vanek is riding a eight-game point streak after Monday’s two-point night.
“It helps to get back on the left and playing consistently with two guys I’m getting comfortable with,” Vanek said of linemates Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine.
His past four games, he has averaged 12 minutes, 10 seconds a night because of a third-line, second power-play role.
“It shows the depth we have,” Vanek said. “Would I like to get back up there? Sure. But we’re playing four lines, we’re winning games, so you can’t complain about that.”
• Left winger Ryan Carter missed his 21st consecutive game Monday, but he has been cleared to return from a separated shoulder suffered Feb. 9. That could come as soon as Tuesday’s game against the Islanders.
“The light is there at the end of the tunnel, so I’m happy about that,” Carter said.
For Carter to return, he said he has to feel comfortable that his shoulder can withstand contact.
“I have a certain role and I have to be ready to play that role,” he said. “I have to make sure when I come back I can be physical and win those battles. We tested it a little bit. A little more [Monday]. It’s responded well.”
• The Wild plans to sign Pavel Jenys, a 2014 seventh-round pick, to an amateur tryout Tuesday in order for him to play at AHL Iowa the rest of the season. Jenys led OHL Sudbury in scoring with 45 points this season.
• Forward Jordan Schroeder (for the eighth consecutive game) and defenseman Christian Folin were scratched.