|Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Indahl/US PRESSWIRE|
Left Wing, 5'11" 186 Pounds
Denver University (NCAA)/Minnesota Wild 22-24-46 Points (38 Games)/0-2-2 (6 Games)
Anytime during the course of a season where the bottom has dropped out, you look for glimmers of hope- a trade, a call up of a prospect, anything that causes the average fan to retain some sort of excitement about what the future may hold. That things aren't all gloom and doom, despite the wreckage that is unfolding on the ice in front of you. The Wild fanbase caught such a glimpse this Spring when Jason Zucker joined the team for six games following the end of his Denver Pioneers season.
In the first Draft run by Assistant GM Brent Flahr, The Wild traded back up into the late 2nd round to grab Zucker, who at the time was a USA Hockey darling, having won 3 gold medals in international competition in one year- two with at the U-18 tournaments, and one as an underager with the World Junior Team. The speedster had been a role player in those tournaments, but his game grew when he went to DU.
Showing not just an elite shot but solid playmaking ability, Zucker's versatility lends himself to that vaunted "tweener" category that FRB has talked about ad nauseum- he was viewed initially as what could be an elite third liner, and now he looks like he could see top-six and special teams minutes too. Zucker, quite literally, could be a player that you can put on the ice at any point of any game, no matter how big or how small- in fact he has a reputation for stepping his game up when the situation calls for- as evidenced by the 10 game winning goals in 78 collegiate games.
So after getting a taste of the NHL (which burned a year off of his entry-level contract), Zucker is presumably a candidate for a Wild roster spot (assuming a CBA deal is ironed out) but in all likelihood will earn his stripes in Houston, where he'll continue to develop his game and fill out his frame so he doesn't get killed by his fearless nature.
Previous 2012 Minnesota Wild Top 20 Articles:
#9 - Zack Phillips
#10 - Mario Lucia
#11 - Johan Gustafsson
#12 - Darcy Kuemper
#13 - Erik Haula
#14 - Daniel Gunnarsson
#15 - Raphael Bussieres
#16 - Kris Foucault
#17 - Nick Seeler
#18 - Tyler Cuma
#19 - Chay Genoway
#20 - Tyler Graovac