The Minnesota Wild have no shortage of talent in their system, thanks to a few years of great drafting and the ability to let prospects mature with the AHL’s Houston Aeros. One prospect who got his first taste of NHL action last season and is playing like he’s ready to suit up for the Wild again is forward Jason Zucker.
Zucker, a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, leads the Aeros with 17 goals and 36 points. He is the team’s lone representative at the AHL All-Star Classic, which takes place tonight in Providence, Rhode Island. Zucker was drafted after starring for the U.S. National Team (U18), and went on to play two years of college hockey at the University of Denver. He scored 23 goals in his first season there, then 23 last season. He was able to join the Wild for six games after turning pro, and managed two assists.
This season has seen Zucker lead the way for an Aeros team that also features prospects Justin Fontaine, Charlie Coyle and Johan Larsson. Finnish forward Mikael Granlund was also on the team until the lockout ended. His nine power play goals are the third most in the league, and his five game-winning goals put him behind only Brett Connolly of the Syracuse Crunch. With the shortened season testing players’ health so far, it is pretty likely that someone gets injured in Minnesota. When that happens, the team should look to Zucker first, and see if he can put up the same kind of production at the NHL level.