The Minnesota Wild have one of the NHL‘s best farm systems, and fans hope the talented group of prospects can propel the club into the upper echelon of the League. Today, we take a look at one of the Wild’s newest prospects, Jason Zucker.
Born in Newport Beach, California and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Zucker may be in for a rude awakening when the brutal Minnesota winter rolls around. At just 20 years old, the winger is a little bit undersized by NHL standards, as he is listed at 5′ 10″ and 175 pounds. What he may lack in size, he makes up in speed and energy. Zucker is a great skater and has a good hockey IQ.
Zucker helped Team USA win the gold medal in the 2010 World Juniors, and was also on the bronze medal USA team from the 2011 Juniors. He played for the University of Denver in 2010-11, where he was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year. In his second year, he posted 46 points (22 goals and 24 assists) in 38 games before leaving for the bright lights of the NHL, and signing a three-year contract with the Wild.
He had a cup of coffee last year with the Wild, as he appeared in the final six games of the 2011-12 season. In his brief big league stint, he had just two assists, but both came in a 4-3 defeat of the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
Zucker is currently skating with the Houston Aeros, where he is on a line with Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle, in what they ought to just call the “Future Line.” While Granlund will almost certainly play for the Wild this year, I’m not certain that Zucker or Coyle will get a call up. The duo will likely only get called up if they post some fantastic stats in the AHL, or if the club suffers a rash of injuries like last season.
He is very young, so Zucker has a while to show what he is made of. However, in his short stint in the league last year he displayed his good skating and puck sense, though he didn’t dent the stat sheet much.
Also Dany Heatley, Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard could all be parting ways with the club for various reasons, which will only open up a spot for Zucker in the future. The left side of the Wild roster is getting older each day, so I believe the opportunity is there for Zucker to develop into a top-six forward; he just needs to capitalize on it.