Zucker leaves Denver, signs three-year deal with Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2012 - 8:42 PM

The forward, who gave up his final two years of collegiate eligibility, could make his NHL debut Thursday against Florida.

Denver forward Jason Zucker signed a three-year contract with the Wild on Tuesday. He was a 2010 second-round draft pick.

The final six games will be more interesting for disconsolate Wild fans. They'll get a sneak peek at prospect Jason Zucker, the now-former University of Denver standout who gave up his final two years of college eligibility to sign a three-year contract with the Wild on Tuesday.

As long as he passes a physical Wednesday, the speedy, high-energy forward (5-11, 175) will make his NHL debut Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Born in Newport Beach, Calif., Zucker, 20, moved to Las Vegas when he was two months old and will become the first Nevada-trained player in NHL history.

He scored 22 goals and 46 points in 38 games during his sophomore season at DU -- one year after being named WCHA Freshman of the Year following a 22-goal, 45-point campaign.

When the Wild drafted Zucker in the 2010 second round, it considered him a future third-liner.

"In college, he was a first-line player who scored goals," General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "I hope there's elements of both of that in his game, but time will tell. He can shoot the puck, he skates well and he's got a strong work ethic. But right now he's a 20-year-old prospect who's got a lot to learn."

It was assumed Zucker would turn pro after the Pioneers' season. The only question was whether the Wild would burn the first year of Zucker's contract or start him in Houston, where he could have gotten playoff experience.

But Zucker wanted to get going now, and with potentially six forwards and one defenseman all turning pro at the same time, the Wild would prefer not to have each contract expire at the same time.

However, nobody knows what the future free agency rules will be after the NHL and NHL Players Association negotiates a new collective bargaining agreement, so Fletcher said "the overriding factor was simply our desire to get [Zucker] some NHL experience" so he can "see the pace of play firsthand, familiarize himself with our systems and perhaps most importantly allow our coaches to get to know Jason as a player."

Zucker will earn a prorated portion of $700,000 these final 12 days and a $70,000 signing bonus. In each of the next two years, he'll earn $90,000 signing bonuses and salaries of $900,000 when he plays in the NHL.

An excited Zucker flew to Minnesota late Tuesday and will practice Wednesday.

Only Granlund remains

With prospects Jonas Brodin, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips all signed, this leaves only 2010 first-round pick Mikael Granlund unsigned.

The Wild cannot sign him until after the world championships in May. It must sign him by June 1 or he can re-enter the draft, but assistant GM Brent Flahr says the Wild has no concerns and the "lines of communication have been open" with his agents.

Granlund has said multiple times over the past year that his intent is to sign in May with the Wild.

Because of the amount of prospects and the need to leave space to sign NHL free agents, Fletcher does not anticipate signing any college free agents. Teams can only have 50 contracts.

If the Wild runs into more injury problems, Bulmer, suspended from the WHL playoffs because of a kneeing major, might also get more action with the Wild. He played nine games in October. Otherwise, he'll be assigned to Houston.


• Center Matt Cullen underwent season-ending surgery on a broken right index finger Tuesday. The veteran blocked Christian Ehrhoff's shot late in Saturday's game at Buffalo.

• Goalie Niklas Backstrom (lower body), who hasn't played since March 1, backed up Josh Harding. Matt Hackett was reassigned.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cincinnati 0 Top 3rd Inning
Baltimore 5
Boston 7 Bottom 8th Inning
NY Yankees 3
Detroit 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Cleveland 2
NY Mets 8 Top 9th Inning
Miami 6
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Atlanta 0
Toronto 8 Top 9th Inning
Tampa Bay 2
Milwaukee 1 Top 6th Inning
Chicago Cubs 7
LA Angels 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Houston 7
Chicago WSox 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 3
Texas 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Kansas City 1
Pittsburgh 2 Top 6th Inning
St. Louis 5
San Francisco 1 Top 5th Inning
Colorado 6
Seattle 0 Top 1st Inning
Oakland 0
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 2 1st Qtr 9:17
Phoenix 2
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question