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2023 FlamesNation prospect rankings: #11 Lucas Ciona

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Photo credit:Brian Liesse/WHL
Robert Munnich
7 months ago
Lucas Ciona makes his first appearance on the FlamesNation top 20 prospect rankings, finishing at 11. Ciona didn’t receive a vote as a top 20 prospect in last year’s ranking, which was his first year of eligibility. The reason for the huge jump in his ranking is because he went from being a depth piece on the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2021-22 season, to being the captain and one of the most important players on the best team in the Western Hockey League in 2022-23.
Lucas Ciona
Left Wing  
Born January 8, 2003 (20 years old) in Edmonton, Alberta
6’2″, 223 pounds
Drafted in the sixth round (173rd overall) by Calgary in 2021
Ciona took a major step forward in his development last season with the league winning Seattle Thunderbirds. He went from putting up 35 points in 53 games in the 2021-22 season to scoring 75 points in 63 games in the 22-23 season. He finished second in scoring on a stacked Thunderbird team that went to the Memorial Cup final. An impressive accomplishment for the sixth-round pick.
Although Ciona finished the regular season as an over a point per game player, the aspects of his game that he is most known for are his physicality, intensity, and leadership. Ciona is built like a tank. He was one of the most physical and tenacious players in the WHL last season. You notice him on almost every one of his shifts. He’s making an impact in his own end breaking up plays. He could be laying a huge hit on the forecheck. Or he could be creating a scoring chance for himself or one of his teammates. The guy is all over the ice making a difference.
Let’s just say that there are a lot of WHL defencemen who are happy that they won’t be seeing Ciona next season in the WHL.
He also has high end character and leadership abilities. He was an alternate captain in 21-22 and was named captain of the Thunderbirds in January 2023. He led them to a WHL Championship and to the Memorial Cup Final where Seattle came up just short in the championship game, losing to the Quebec Remparts. At the Calgary Flames 2022 development camp, Ciona won the award for being the player who “exemplifies leadership, attitude, good person and helping out.”

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Here’s what friend of the site Derek Neumeier, of McKeen’s, had to say regarding Ciona’s game:
Ciona is very fortunate to have been playing for the Thunderbirds for the past few two seasons, because he has been surrounded by elite teammates and you can tell how much that has helped elevate his game. While he’s still not overly skilled, he is better at reading the play in all three zones and at being a positive possession player. The main focus for him now should be establishing a clear identity for the professional levels, and his best chance at cracking the NHL will come through mastering his physical tools and bringing a lot of defensive value.

Expectations for 2023-24

Ciona will be likely joining the Calgary Wranglers for his first season of professional hockey. (He’s eligible to return to the WHL as an overager, but it seems unlikely.)
Because of that, I think we should lower our expectations for the 20-year-old AHL rookie. It takes time for young players to get used to playing against men, the increased speed of the game, and the schedule.
Ciona will probably play in the bottom six of the Wranglers lineup. He can provide some size, speed, and toughness to a team that lost in the Western conference semi finals of last years AHL playoffs.
In terms of production, it’s fair to think that Ciona can put up 20-25 points as a rookie. But the points aren’t the most important part of his game. A good year for Ciona would be to work on his defensive play, penalty killing, and using his physicality to his advantage. He doesn’t profile as a top six player in the NHL. So, it’s important that he works on the elements of his game that will translate to NHL success as a third- or fourth-line player.
Overall, fans should be excited about Ciona’s future with the Flames organization. He is the definition of a hockey player. He is tough, physical, big, and has some skill to his game. He’s plays a Western Canadian style of hockey that fans will love to watch.

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