Spring breakaway to NHL: Wild sign Notre Dame’s Mario Lucia

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Yes, it is indeed that time of year where college hockey players start signing with NHL teams.

The intrigue really ramps up when they’re either undrafted or opt for unrestricted free agency rather than signing with the team that picked them. In this latest case, it wasn’t quite as dramatic, as the Minnesota Wild signed Mario Lucia to an entry-level contract on Sunday.

(The drama is lacking [only relatively speaking] because the Wild picked him 60th overall in 2011.)

The Wild noted that he’ll stick with the AHL’s Iowa Wild on an ATO (amateur tryout agreement) through 2015-16.

Lucia scored fewer points this season (24) than last (32) with Notre Dame, although he played five fewer games.

Here’s his “talent analysis” from Hockey’s Future:

Lucia is a speedy winger with some good size, He has been ahead of the competition at every level of his young career and continues to be one of his team’s leading scorers at Notre Dame. His size and strength allow him to dominate at the college level and he has a strong desire to score goals. The other areas of his game are not as developed but should improve when he makes the step up to pro hockey and faces players with similar physical tools.