clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

BREAKING: Jason Zucker Out 3 Months, Ryan Carter Out 1 Month

New, comments

The Wild's forward depth took a big hit last night vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Jason Zucker is likely to be out for the season.
Jason Zucker is likely to be out for the season.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

According to Michael Russo, surprisingly good grinder Ryan Carter is out for a month with a shoulder injury, and Jason "The Savior" will be out for three months with a broken clavicle. Both forwards were injured early on in last night's win against the Vancouver Canucks.

Both injuries come as a blow to the Minnesota Wild. Carter has been a mainstay on the Minnesota Wild's penalty kill, and has provided the team with good defensive play, and while his point production has slowed down considerably since his early-season offensive outburst, there was never a sense he wasn't contributing to the team. He's been replaced, in the short term, by Iowa Wild grinder Brett Sutter.

Losing Zucker is potentially devastating to the Wild, who have won 6 straight to crawl back into the playoff hunt. Not only is Zucker quietly one of the league's most prolific goal scorers (His 16 5v5 goals puts him in the NHL's Top-10), but he's done really fine work slotting in next to Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.

The three-month timetable for Zucker puts a potential return around mid-May, meaning if the Wild can't make the playoffs and advance into the second-round, Zucker will likely be done for the season. If he doesn't return, this will mark his second consecutive season-ending injury (His season ended after knee surgery last year).

Zucker's absence means that other young Minnesota Wild forwards will have to step up in his place. Nino Niederreiter seems an obvious replacement for Zucker in the lineup- he's a fast, scoring winger with a penchant for shooting. Niederreiter has had really good underlying numbers, particularly when skating with Koivu, so this should work out well enough. Where the Wild will be really tested is in their depth. Niederreiter moving up in the lineup means that he'll be split apart from Charlie Coyle. Coyle and Niederreiter have been much better skating together than apart, and now Coyle will likely be seeing a bit of a dropoff in linemates, at least from an offensive point of view (Though it should be noted Jordan Schroeder, Erik Haula, and Justin Fontaine are all pretty decent two-way players).

These injuries will be a test for the Wild to overcome, but luckily, the Wild are deeper as an organization at forward than they are at defense, so these injuries will not be so devastating as when the entire Wild defense got infected by the mumps virus earlier this season.

Have at it, Wilderness. Can the Wild still make the playoffs, or are they doomed?