Zucker eager to return to Minnesota Wild lineup

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2013 - 11:44 AM

– Knowing full well how many youngsters are vying for roster spots, Jason Zucker understands it doesn’t take much to slip down the depth chart with the Oct. 3 Wild opener creeping up.

Zucker said his strained groin “felt absolutely perfect” during Sunday’s practice, but the 21-year-old left wing also admitted he felt an urgency to get back onto the ice with Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula knocking on the door.

“But at the same time, I have to look out for myself,” Zucker said. “There’s no point for me coming back early and not being at my best. … If I wasn’t 100 percent, that would just make me look even worse.”

Zucker is expected to play in Monday’s exhibition game against Columbus. Coach Mike Yeo said Zucker looked great in practice and “didn’t lose his speed.”

Zucker was hurt on his first shift against the Blue Jackets in Tuesday’s preseason opener. He tried to fight through it, but during the first intermission, the Wild decided to pull him for precautionary reasons.

He was having a good camp before getting hurt, so you can imagine his disappointment to be off the ice the past four days.

“Once I felt it, I knew it wasn’t good and I was not happy about it,” Zucker said. “You always want to be playing no matter what the situation is.”

Granlund out now

Zucker might be back, but now Granlund’s hurt. Yeo said Granlund sustained a “slight upper-body injury” during Saturday’s preseason win over Winnipeg.

Yeo says it’s “nothing big,” but Granlund won’t play in Columbus.

Josh Harding will start for the Wild. He made 16 of 17 saves through two periods in Thursday’s victory at Winnipeg. Defensemen Keith Ballard, Clayton Stoner, Matt Dumba, Nate Prosser, Steve Kampfer and Jonathon Blum are expected to play. Up front, Niederreiter, Fontaine and Haula will get another look, while the veteran line of Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Torrey Mitchell also will play.

Veteran center David Steckel, an Ohio State alum and Columbus resident, will play. He’s on a pro tryout. Youngsters Tyler Graovac and Zack Phillips also will travel, but only one of the two likely will play.

Coyle gets to rest

One youngster who will get the game off is Charlie Coyle, who is having a fantastic camp. Coyle scored his second goal of the preseason Saturday, but Yeo was especially thrilled that Coyle won 12 of 15 faceoffs.

“It’s big for us to get that confidence in him, but it’s bigger for him,” Yeo said.

Yeo continues to be impressed by Fontaine and Haula, who are intriguing because not only are they skilled, but they’re so reliable defensively that they could conceivably fill third- or fourth-line roles.

Fontaine, 25, had a terrific practice Sunday with Coyle and Dany Heatley.

“Makes plays,” Yeo said. “He doesn’t have huge size and doesn’t have lightning speed, but he has very high hockey intelligence. This is his first taste of the NHL and he keeps getting better.”

  • related content

  • Wild left winger Jason Zucker

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close