When news broke that the Minnesota Wild were moving on from Paul Fenton as general manager it sent shock waves across the league. Fenton made some questionable moves throughout his first year, but nobody was expecting him to get his walking papers after just one year of steering the ship.
It turns out that Fenton wasn’t going to win any “the most liked in the office” awards at 199 W Kellogg Blvd. The Athletic’s, Michael Russo highlighted the storm that was brewing within the Wild front office.
A man that had every right to be irked by the way Fenton went about his business is Jason Zucker. Fenton attempted to trade Zucker at every corner. It got leaked that Fenton had a deal in place to trade the winger to Calgary. Then this offseason he had a deal in place to trade Zucker to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel, who wouldn’t wave his no-trade clause to come to the State of Hockey.
With Fenton gone Zucker can exhale. The fact that Fenton tried to trade Zucker (27) for Kessel (31) while trying to get younger is a fireable offense. Since Zucker is still here and Fenton isn’t, Zucker is a candidate for a ‘bounce back’ campaign this season.
“I fully believe that no other player will be more positively affected by the Fenton firing than Zucker,” Gone Puck Wild’s, Lake Martin said. “To have the decision maker of the team actively trying to get rid of you has to affect performance and it showed. Zucker will enter the 2019-2020 season as a new man with new life and something to prove. I’m incredibly excited to see it.”
Zucker is coming off a solid 42 point season for the Wild. He scored 21 goals and recorded 21 assists. He finished sixth on the team in points, third in goals and sixth in assists.
“I believe Zucker is going to have a bounce back season, because I think he knows that last season was not a reflection of how can actually perform,” Martin said.
Those numbers for Zucker are respectable. However, the Wild were likely expecting more from him in 2018-2019. Especially when you consider Zucker had a career-year during the 2017-2018 season. That season he finished with 64 points, scoring 33 goals and recording 31 assists, all career-highs for the winger. Out of Zucker’s 33 goals, seven of them were game winners.
This past season the Wild missed the playoffs after reaching the postseason the previous six seasons. If the Wild are going to get back into the postseason they’ll need the 2017-2018 version of Zucker. With the trade rumors likely down swirling Zucker can get down to business and focus on hockey.