Is it me, or does Jason Zucker seem like the type of guy you’d love to grab a beer with? He reminds me of a Vince Vaughn (albeit stature), one who gives off that jolly demeanor, whose company could liven up a room. (It must be me). Seth Rogen has a line in Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” (talking about Vince Vaughn), where he states “I feel like him and I would get along.” That’s my thought process with a guy like Jason Zucker.
The Minnesota winger just always seems to be enjoying himself, and he should be entering the upcoming season. Simply put, Jason Zucker will be a spirited, key piece of Minnesota’s youthful talent for years to come. All signs point towards Zucks exploding this season for the Wild.
Looking Ahead, and Behind
Entering 2015-16, the California kid carries just a $900,250 cap hit in his second year of a two-year contract that expires at this season’s end. As a restricted free agent, Zucker could easily be paid in the $3-4 million per range (if not more) should he have another year like last. It would behoove Minnesota brass to lock him up and pay him his due. At just 23 years of age, he has begun to show exactly what he is capable of on the ice, and like everyone, will look to further impress with big numbers this year to earn that pay-day.
Year by year, Zucker’s health has played a part in his shortened seasons. Who could forget this hit from Corey Perry in 2012-13? A year later, he missed all of the playoffs due to a torn quadriceps tendon, and again this past season, a broken clavicle saw him sidelined for nearly half of the year. Despite only playing 51 games in 2014-15, he still managed to score 21 goals, good for third on the team, and best G/60 in the entire NHL.
On and Off the Ice
Sound improvements to his defensive game has boosted Mike Yeo’s trust in Zucker. This was clear in his larger role taken on in 2015 being part of the league’s number one penalty kill. As a regular in the top-six forward corp, his numbers have the potential to significantly increase this season should he stay healthy and be given more power play time. Numerous fans on social media have made known the desire to see him playing with Zach Parise. There is great intrigue in that potential, and possibly could turn to reality this year.
In case you missed it, young Zucker also popped the question to Sports/Entertainment Journalist and girlfriend Carly Aplin this summer. Yea yea, is this a celeb gossip blog or a hockey news site?
Jason Zucker is entering his prime, enjoying this breakthrough in his career, his personal life, and undoubtedly motivated to begin the next chapter this season in Minnesota for all the right reasons. The expectation here is that Jason Zucker builds from the success he had last year and takes the league by storm. He could easily reach the 30-goal mark in 2016, and become a staple in Minnesota for the long haul.
Here’s to JZ’s good health!
Jon Nomland is a Journalism student out of Colorado, and currently a Minnesota Wild contributor for The Hockey Writers. When not engaged in Wild hockey, he enjoys following the Philadelphia Flyers due to his Pennsylvania roots.