Trade Deadline Buzz
Scouting Jason Zucker
Position: LW/RW | Age 28
Cap Hit: $5.5MM | Signed Thru: 2022-2023
44 GP – 14 Goals – 15 Assists – 29 Assists |
The Penguins interest in Jason Zucker has been no secret. He was obviously part of the blocked Phil Kessel trade and Wild GM Bill Guerin has known since he took the job that it was only going to be a matter of time before Rutherford would take another crack at acquiring Zucker.
— Call it multiple tries to acquire Zucker as of now —
As the Wild pulled within two points of a wildcard spot with Friday night’s win vs the Dallas Stars, Guerin has been weighing whether to the Zucker situation to the summer where the opportunity for more teams involved will be there and as mentioned here this week, there’s been pause about doing business with a team you just came for, something Guerin, sources say, has been getting advice on from others.
Nonetheless, what makes Zucker a consensus No. 1 long-term target on the Penguins trade board?
Despite the risk of taking on a $5.5 million cap hit for another three seasons, and it’s a big risk, what has drawn Zucker to the Penguins is how he can impact a game away from the puck if he’s not producing offensively. Scouts have called him a perfect Mike Sullivan type of player.
Watching Zucker closely Friday night against the Dallas Stars, a team coaches and scouts feel is built for a deep postseason run, the attributes of puck pursuit and keeping plays alive stood out all night.
Here was a sequence on three straight shifts in the second period where Zucker excelled in all those areas.
#1. Here Zucker wins a foot race on a dump-in and against a much bigger/stronger player in Roman Polak…. he shields his body to create a cycle that leads to a scoring chance.
#2. Moments later near the end of the same shift, Zucker is assertive in possessing a loose puck near the blue line and his first instinctive move isn’t to just dump the puck in. Instead, Zucker shows patience, pivots to create time and space, making a cross-ice pass to Ryan Suter that nearly sets up a great scoring chance but Suter can’t connect to an open teammate in front.
#3. Zucker’s next shift with around five minutes left in the second, it was more of the same, winning a foot race to gain possession along the wall, in addition to protecting Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"