Minnesota Wild: Jason Zucker Will Breakout in 2015-16


Jason Zucker enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in the 2014-15 season, giving Minnesota Wild fans an intrigue for his future moving forward. 21 goals in 51 games last season, infers that a breakout year will come from Zucker in the 2015-16 season.

Zucker only appeared in 47 games for the Wild before last season and was only reaching around 250 minutes a season. The California native, had only eight career goals coming into last season, but when given the opportunity he surpassed expectations.

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Last season saw Zucker appear in 51 games, while getting 768 total minutes. His ice time increased from 11-13 minutes a game, to a solid 15:04 minutes a game.

Those numbers may increase again this year, and Zucker may earn himself a bigger opportunity within the organization in what will be a contract season for him.

An opportunity to surpass Thomas Vanek.

Vanek has an average salary of $6,500,000 each season, compared to the $900,000 a year Zucker is under contract for. Roughly a difference of 5.6 million dollars for players producing very similar numbers in terms of what their strengths are on the ice.

Nov 20, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) celebrates his goal late in the third period with teammates left wing Thomas Vanek (26) and center Charlie Coyle (3) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. The Wild defeated the Flyers, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Both Zucker and Vanek scored 21 goals last season, where Vanek appeared in 29 more games. Zucker was second on the team in scoring, before going down with a broken clavicle in February. It was said that he also played with a broken thumb in the playoff’s where he still scored two more goals than Vanek.

Health is a very important issue, and Zucker will need to stay healthy during the 2015-16 season to sign the big pay check he may receive from the Wild in the 2016 off-season. If Zucker can stay healthy and pick up where he left off last season, he should be paid at least $3,000,000 a year.

Now other aspects of his game will need to improve as well, for instance his assist tally will need to increase tremendously if he wants to be a premier top six forward for the Wild long-term. His five assists were dismal for a player with his scoring touch, so he will need to see the ice a little bit better this season. That was one area that Zucker could not compete with Vanek, as Vanek had 31 assists last season.

Zucker’s overall game from a defensive perspective needs to increase as well. His defense is a cause for concern, and his plus/minus rating of -9, from last season, will need to increase in order for the speculation of his bad defensive game to be nullified.

Although Zucker is not perfect, the intrigue and potential is there for him to have a huge season in 2015-16. A season that will see fans grow angrier and angrier if Vanek has another season like last year, given his contract. It is always interesting to see how a player will compete when he is preforming under the pressure of a contract year, but Zucker seems to be on the right track to ensure a successful season.

He fill be watched under the microscope this year.

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