The Minnesota Wild announced Tuesday that they’ve reached a deal to re-sign forward Jason Zucker to a two-year contract. The deal is two-way in the first year and one-way in the second.
The 22-year-old forward split time between the Wild and their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild last season. He played 21 games in Minnesota, collecting four goals and an assist, and played 22 games in Iowa where he had eight goals and five assists.
His 2013-14 season was cut short by injury, requiring surgery in late March to repair a tendon in his left quadriceps. The news release from the team says that Zucker is healthy and ready to go for the 2014-15 season.
Zucker, a second round draft pick by the Wild in 2010, quickly became a Wild fan favorite due to his explosive speed and his game-winning goal in Game 3 of the 2013 playoffs against Chicago. (Relive that goal at the bottom of this post.)
However, Zucker has been unable to penetrate the lineup on a permanent basis. His struggles on the defensive side of the puck have stopped him from being able to climb his way into a top six position, where his skill set is best suited. With the deal structured the way it is — with Zucker having a one-way deal in the second year — it seems like Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher believes that Zucker will deliver on his promise. (Though a reminder to Wild faithful, a one-way deal does not mean that Zucker can’t play in Iowa. It only means that he’ll be paid the same whether he’s in Iowa or Minnesota.)
Zucker is the second of the Wild restricted free agents to sign a deal, after Jonathon Blum signed a deal on Friday. Justin Fontaine (who filed for arbitration), Darcy Kuemper, and Nino Niederreiter are the three remaining Wild RFAs expected to ink a deal in the near future.
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