Seth Rorabaugh of Trib Live Sports is reporting that free agent winger Jason Zucker has made it clear that he wants to remain a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zucker was able to remain healthy this season for the first time since the 2018-19 season when he was a member of the Minnesota Wild. Zucker flourished in a top six role for the Penguins this year, which was a pleasant, albeit unexpected surprise. Zucker spent much of last summer as a possible trade or buyout candidate, but the Penguins never found a suitor for the California native and elected to hang onto him.
Zucker rewarded Pittsburgh with his best season as a Penguin. He tallied 27 goals and 48 points in 78 games while playing on a second line with Evgeni Malkin. Zucker was also one of the few Penguins who showed an emotional pulse as the team was free falling out of a playoff position in the dying weeks of the regular season. There were many nights in which Pittsburgh appeared to be sleepwalking through the game only to be awakened by a huge hit by the small forward.
Zucker will have suitors and could very well fetch a contract that exceeds his previous cap hit of $5.5MM. Zucker is just 31 years old, and while injuries are certainly a concern given his track record, the lack of game breaking forwards on the free agent market should allow Zucker to cash in on his bounce back season.
In other notes from around the NHL:
- Chip Alexander of Raleigh News & Observer is reporting that Rod Brind’Amour said that Jack Drury is feeling better today. This comes on the heels of Drury leaving game four yesterday after taking a hard hit into the boards in the first period. The center is in the midst of a 14-game goalless drought and played just 1:20 in the Hurricanes 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. Drury had just eight points in 38 games in the regular season, but with the Hurricanes battling through various injuries the 23-year-old played over 15 minutes in both games two and three of Carolina’s first round series.
- Alexander also tweeted that Brind’Amour said goaltender Frederik Andersen is good to go for the Carolina Hurricanes. Andersen will likely be relegated to a backup role as Antti Raanta has backstopped the Hurricanes to a 3-1 series lead against the Islanders. Raanta has posted a solid .915 save percentage for Carolina after going 19-3-3 in the regular season. While it seems likely that Andersen won’t see action until the second round, he could get into a game should Raanta stumble in any of the next few games.