The offseason means the end of Minnesota Wild games, but the work is never done. With Exit Interviews, Hockey Wilderness assumes the GM's chair and sits down with each player to review their season, highlighting what we liked from them over the year and pointing out what can be improved to take the next step. Today is Jason Zucker's day to visit the front office.
Zucks, come on in and have a seat. Let's get right to it.
So yeah, this season wasn't a step forward for you. It was more like a step backward. So much so that you ended up being a healthy scratch at times down the stretch especially when we needed a player such as yourself to help supplement some goal-scoring on other lines not including Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula.
We still value the hell out of what you can do with the speed you possess. It's a great tool to have as you are able to get in behind the defenses of other teams and single-handedly create scoring chances by yourself. This team doesn't currently have many players like you that can do that.
You are a shooter. And even at the beginning of this season when it seemed like you couldn't buy a goal, the shots you took created offensive chances. Somewhere throughout the season that shooting mentality dissipated. Even compare last season to this season and your shots per 60 minutes dropped by nearly five shots. We need you to return to shooting the puck as often as you can, because when you're aggressive, that's when you're at your best.
While restricted free agent talks are on-going with your representation, we hope to come to an agreement on a new contract. We want you to prove that you can be a consistent player a the NHL level.
Expectations for Next Season
We just need more shots from your stick. We expect Boudreau to find the right fit for you and your speed, but if you're not shooting the puck, it won't matter where he puts you. You have to be the catalyst for offense on your line. We expect more in terms of production from you with the tools you possess.
While we don't always expect perfection in the defensive zone, we do expect our players to at least commit to playing strong in our own zone. This means putting your body on the line to block shots, play physical, and force turnovers.
1,) You haven't arrived yet. Sure you had one decent season that showed lots of promise, but even that one was shortened by injury. Hopefully this reality check allows you to really examine your deficiencies and strengths to round out your game. Hopefully it's a bit humbling.
2.) Enjoy Life. You're getting married, you have step-daughter, and you live in Las Vegas. There are seriously awesome things about all of that. Let your mind get away from hockey and reset ready to come in for next season and make a big impression on the new staff.