Jason Zucker has signed with the Wild, a three-year entry-level deal, starting this season.
He gets $70,000 signing bonus plus a prorated portion of a $700,000 salary these final 12 days of the season. He then gets $900,000 salaries each of the next two years if he plays in the NHL, which includes annual $90,000 signing bonuses.
If the Wild gets through tonight healthy (to be determined with this squad), a roster move will have to be made tomorrow. Very good chance he makes his NHL debut Thursday vs. Florida as long as he passes his physical tomorrow. He has told the Wild he's healthy.
Basically, the Wild's burning the first year of the deal, meaning he becomes a Group II and a Group III free agent one year earlier. The Wild had no problem with this. With unsigned Mikael Granlund and signed Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Zucker, Zack Phillips and Charlie Coyle all turning pro and maybe signed defenseman Jonas Brodin, it could be problematic to have 7 guys up as restricted free agents in three years.
So you start Zucker now and that spreads them apart a bit. That's why I think there's a chance we see Brett Bulmer recalled once Kelowna's season ends (Bulmer's suspended for a kneeing major, by the way; they're down 2-0 in the first round of the WHL playoffs). One more game and the first year of Bulmer's deal is burned (remember, 10-game rule is for Canadian Hockey Leaguers, so that why Zucker's first year is burned even though he can play a maximum of six games).
As for Granlund, he can't be officially signed until after the world championships, although there has been conversations with his peeps for awhile. The Wild's so confident it gets done, I frankly think it's a matter of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Also, Granlund has told me three different times he plans to sign with the Wild in May.
Zucker, last year's WCHA rookie of the year and captain of the USA's world junior team a few months ago, was a standout winger for the University of Denver for the past two seasons and for the U.S. junior national team in the past three world tournaments.
He was one of three Wild second-round picks (59th overall) in 2010.
Zucker is pronounced Zook-er, not Zucker, or Zhid-litz-sky.