Minnesota Wild Sign Jason Zucker to a 2-Year Extension

Jason Zucker will need to re-build his stock with the Minnesota Wild this season. - USA TODAY Sports

The speedy left-winger was a Restricted Free Agent.

Jason Zucker, the Minnesota Wild left wing prospect, signed a deal with the Minnesota Wild today.

The deal is for two years, and while the amount of money hasn't been confirmed by anyone as of this writing, it's not likely for much money. The first year of the deal is a two-way deal, which means the Wild will be able to send him to the Iowa Wild (AHL) without paying him an NHL salary, while the second year will be a one-way deal, meaning that if the Wild sent him to Iowa, they'd have to pay him an NHL salary.

Jason Zucker was almost no risk to leave the Wild, as he was a Restricted Free Agent who actually had even fewer rights than, say, Nino Niederreiter or Darcy Kuemper will have at their disposal this summer. It was a total no-brainer for General Manager Chuck Fletcher to extend Zucker.

Zucker was drafted with the 59th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft. He had played for the USA U-20 team in the World Junior Championships in 3 separate seasons, eventually captaining the squad in 2011. While many initially pegged him as a third-liner, Zucker opened eyes by being a goal-scorer at the University of Denver, where he scored 45 goals and 46 assists in his two NCAA seasons. From there, he went to the (then) Houston Aeros of the AHL, where he notched 24 goals (50 points) in 55 games. He played a short stint in Minnesota, scoring 4 goals and an assist in 20 games, and scoring an OT-winning goal against the Blackhawks in the postseason.

The feeling was that Zucker was going to be a mainstay in the Wild lineup, so there was a lot of surprise when Zucker was beaten out for a roster spot by Mikael Granlund in training camp. Nothing went right for Zucker after that. He was seemingly in the doghouse, never being in the lineup for an extended period of time. He finished his season with 5 points in 21 NHL games, and a shockingly low 13 points in 22 AHL games. To top it all off, Zucker ended the year needing minor leg surgery.

Zucker will have a tough time making the NHL roster out of camp this season, as there are, by my count, only two roster spots open (bottom-6 wing roles), and the Wild have shown a hesitancy to put Zucker in any defensive role. It would take an impressive training camp where Zucker compliments his speed and shooting with playing the kind of defensive game the coaches expect. And even then, he could conceivably be out-shined by Michael Keränen or Jordan Schroeder. Or passed over for a grittier skill-set in a Brett Bulmer, Cody Almond, or Kurtis Gabriel.

Though as we saw last season, injuries happen. When they inevitably do next year, Zucker ought to be on the short-list of call-ups. Zucker will get another shot with the Wild. What he does with it is up to him.

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