UPDATED WITH ZUCKER QUOTES
One restricted free agent down.
The Wild has re-signed left wing Jason Zucker to a two-year, $4 million deal. He was set to become a Group II free agent Friday and could have filed for arbitration by the July 5 deadline.
"I put myself in that situation," Zucker, not overly thrilled with his season, said of the short-term deal. "It’s still a great deal for me and still gives me the next two years to prove myself and at that point the cards will fall where they are and we'll go from there."
I also hear the Wild has had good talks with the agents of at least Darcy Kuemper and Tyler Graovac. Kuemper has arbitration rights. Matt Dumba, Jordan Schroeder and Zac Dalpe are also notable restricted free agents if unsigned by Friday. Schroeder may be an arbitration candidate if he's seeking a one-way contract or lucrative two-way.
The bridge deal gives Zucker a chance to get his game back on track after a tough season. Zucker's AAV of $2 million per gives the Wild roughly $12 million of cap space this summer with 16 players signed.
On pace for a 30-goal season two years ago if not for a broken clavicle, Zucker scored 13 goals and 10 assists in 71 games last season.
"As far as my standards go, that was not a good season at all last year, but I’ll say I completely forgot about it and moved on," Zucker said. "I’m already well ahead of where I’ve been as far as an offseason goes and we’re a month into it. I'm really excited to spend the next three months to make sure I’m completely ready to go and make sure I’m the best player I’ve ever been."
I had coach Bruce Boudreau on KFAN this morning as I filled in for Paul Allen, and Boudreau said he believes Zucker can reestablish himself as long as he's put into a position succeed.
Zucker said that's exciting to hear because that's all he can ask for, and then the rest is up to him.
Zucker gets married July 29 and then honeymoons in Cabo. He's glad to etch this off the to-do list this summer.
The 24-year-old California born, Las Vegas raised forward has 42 goals and 19 assists in 169 career games. He's the only one of three 2010 second-round picks still with the organization.
Also, the Wild announced its preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. CT, will be played at Pegula Ice Arena at Pennsylvania State University. The Wild and Sabres will become the first two professional teams to face off at Pegula Ice Arena since the arena’s opening on Oct. 11, 2013.