As Minnesota looks to continue to reshape their roster, one player that hasn’t received a lot of attention yet is Jason Zucker. However, Michael Russo of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that the Wild are heavily shopping the winger.
Last season, the 27-year-old had a career season with 33 goals and 31 assists and it looked like he had taken that big step forward towards becoming an impact scorer on a near-nightly basis. GM Paul Fenton clearly thought this was the case as well as he signed Zucker to a five-year, $27.5MM extension last summer, one that bought out his final season of RFA eligibility plus four UFA years.
However, things haven’t gone anywhere near as well in 2018-19. He has just 14 goals and 16 helpers so far this season through 61 games heading into play tonight. While those aren’t terrible numbers in general, Minnesota is paying him to be a top-six producer and more often than not, it hasn’t been the case.
While that alone could be a reason to try to get out of the deal now, Zucker’s contract carries a ten-team no-trade clause as of July 1st that Fenton may not want to have to contend with.
The question here for the Wild is whether it’s worth selling him when his value is down. While there should be several suitors for him – mid-tier teams looking to make ‘hockey deals’ could very well be in the mix as well as the contenders – they’re not in a spot to leverage a significant return given Zucker’s performance this season. However, clearing that contract off their books would give Minnesota a lot more salary cap flexibility over the next several years which Fenton will have to factor in as well. If they do decide to move him, Zucker could certainly be an intriguing buy-low candidate for someone.