The Minnesota Wild will get a key piece of their offensive attack back when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Jason Zucker will re-enter the lineup for the first time since getting injured in the Stadium Series match against Chicago on Feb. 21.
The 24-year-old’s speed has been a key piece of the team’s transition game and though his 12 goals is a step back from where they hoped he’d be, he’s been productive in spurts, particularly early in the season when he was playing on a dominant line with Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter.
He’s only seen a couple of games under new coach John Torchetti and hasn’t been able to get in on the scoring spree that the team has seen since the coaching change.
After Zucker scored 21 goals in 51 games last season, his 12 in 58 comes as a disappointment, even if his game has been more well-rounded. His 10 assists surpassed last season’s five early in the season.
Where he slots into the depth chart will be interesting. Since he went out with injury, the team acquired David Jones from Calgary, which shakes things up.
Ryan Carter got a healthy scratch in favor of Chris Porter in Jones’s first game on Thursday. It seems most likely that Porter will be out of the lineup, but he’s made an impact since finding his way into the lineup after being scratched in six straight games. That could mean that Justin Fontaine becomes the odd man out again.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.