26-Year-Old Left Wing – Minnesota Wild
Jason Zucker Contract Information:
Signed a two-year contract with the Wild in June of 2016 worth $2 million annually.
Zucker's arbitration hearing date is set for Saturday, July 28, Michael Russo of The Athletic Minnesota reports.
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Jason Zucker: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Zucker put up his first nearly full NHL campaign last season, but it was an underwhelming one – despite playing 20 more games than the year before with a slight increase in ice time, he notched three fewer points. Still, there aren’t too many 24-year-olds with 20-goal seasons in their back pockets, and Zucker showed plenty of scoring ability in college as well as the AHL. The question will be whether he ends up on the second or third line – that’ll be the difference between him having a shot at 50 points versus ending up around 30.
Very quietly, Zucker showed last season that he's one of the league's better young snipers. The winger needed just 51 games to accumulate 21 goals, which prorates out to 33 tallies over an 82-game schedule. Zucker only chipped in five assists on top of the goals, but so long as he continues to exhibit a nose for the net, the Wild won't ask him to change his style. Though he averaged 15 minutes of ice time last season, Zucker saw only limited opportunities on special teams. However, it wouldn't be surprising if Zucker goal-scoring prowess prompts coach Mike Yeo to deploy him on the power play more frequently in 2015-16. That could be enough for him to improve on last season's goal mark, though he'll likely lose some efficiency after charting a 16.9 percent shooting rate, the 11th-highest mark in the league.
Zucker has explosive speed, a great shot and big upside. Unfortunately, there's just as much downside. He's a player who has been touted as a top prospect for Minnesota for too long for him to have not yet delivered. His 2013-14 season was cut short by injury and now the Wild's top-six is clogged with guys who are better than him. If he gets a roster spot, he'll likely be on the fourth line to start. Honestly, we'd prefer to see him developing into a better-rounded player in the AHL than struggling in limited moments on the team's bottom line. If he does stick in Minny, Zucker will likely deliver 10 goals and 20 points.
Zucker will compete for a job on a top-three line with the Wild after another strong season in the minors where he was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, scoring 50 points in 55 games. Zucker is a great skater, but may project as a checking forward at the NHL level despite his AHL success.
Minnesota used its second-round (59th overall) draft pick of 2010 on Zucker, a skilled speedster with first-rate skating ability. He's worked on his game with the U.S. National Development Team, and in 2010-11 notched 45 points (23 G, 22 A) and 59 penalty minutes as a freshman for the University of Denver. Just 19 years old, Zucker has a ways to go before he'll be included in the NHL conversation.
Zucker was Minnesota's second round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Las Vegas native has played for the U.S. Junior National Team and he is one of only two U.S. players to win three gold medals in one calendar year. The LW is a versatile player, who can play on any line and play any role on a team. He's committed to the University of Denver for fall of 2010.