Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jason Zucker Signs With Minnesota Wild

(above) Either Jason Zucker or the puck was going to end up in the back of the net once or twice a game
CONTRACT DETAILS:  $70,000 signing bonus plus a pro-rated portion of a $700,000 salary for the final six games 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.

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.
According to Western College Hockey, Jason Zucker signed a three-year, entry-level contract on Tuesday and is expected to join the NHL Minnesota Wild on Thursday before the team plays host to the Florida Panthers at the Xcel Energy Center.

Zucker only played for two seasons at the University of Denver, but was easily one of the most dynamic players to wear a Pioneer sweater.  In two seasons he scored 45 goals and had 46 assists in just 78 career games.
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Zucker's trademark explosive first few strides created numerous breakaways during his career and his ability to score clutch goals in the third period added to his appeal.  He scored 10 game winning goals in the past two seasons.

He is probably best known for being one of just 21 USA players to ever participate in the World Junior Tournament three times.  He was on the Gold Medal winning team in 2009, captured Bronze in 2010 and captained Team USA this year.  He also captured two Under-18 World Championships for Team USA.

He will undoubtedly go on to have a great career in the NHL.

40 comments:

GO_PIOS said...

I knew it, but I wasn't quite ready for it... We'll miss you Zuck!

Anonymous said...

zuck yeah

dggoddard said...

Congrats to Jason.

Loved his game day tweets, his energy on the ice and his style of play.

Twister said...

Not a suprise, but still a kick in the teeth. Besides his sheer numbers (91 points in 78 games) and the 3 World Junior appearances, Zucker was always one of the most electrifying players on the ice. He was a guy you couldn't take your eye off. Good luck Jason!

Anonymous said...

Zucker is reporting straight to the Wild, not the minors.

dggoddard said...

Wow. That's awesome.

miller said...

So will tomorrow bring news that Bennett signed with Pittsburgh?

Of course we wish the best of luck to Drew and Jason but it's tough when we only have a great player for two or three years.

old pio said...

My father, the chest surgeon, used to day: all death is unexpected. I'm feeling that way now. Thanks to Jason for the many thrills you gave us. And good luck with the Wild. I say again, the game he played against Ferris was one of the guttiest performances I've ever seen from a Pioneer. So much for that bull shit about NHL bound guys not "putting out" to protect their pro careers. Fare thee well, Jason Zucker, we'll miss you, but we're all grateful to have had you for two year.

dggoddard said...

Sounds like he got the NHL Rookie Maximum and they burned a year of the deal, meaning if he does well he'll be getting Stastny & Carle dollars a year early.

Very nice work by his agent since Jason was a 2nd round draft pick. Has to be one of the better contracts signed by a second rounder.

Anonymous said...

No doubt a good agent, helped by the fact that the Wild are trying stagger six prospect signings so they don't all become FAs at the same time 3 years from now and destroy the Wild's salary cap.

Aluuum said...

I'm glad zuck. got that first year burned but I don't understand the Wild giving a year away in exchange for a handful of games left this year,particularly with Zuckers present injury. They lose him a year earlier??--or come up with the big bucks if he plays well. I'm not complaining, just something I don't quite see. Good for him!

Anonymous said...

Zucker might be the most electriying player I've seen in a DU sweater since the eye-popping 17 year old first rounder Craig Redmond in 82-83.

Certainly, Bozak was a more complete player at DU, but he was older than Zucker. Stastny and Carle were both hugely talneted players, but not electrifying players like Zucker. Everytime Zucker had the puck, you could not take your eyes off him, and more times than not, he made something happen.

We will be missed, but I am very happy his getting his dream.

Losing players hurts, but it really helps in recruiting and exposure for the DU program.

dggoddard said...

He'll be a restricted free agent in a couple of years so the Wild won't lose him if they want to keep him.

The Wild need to find out ASAP is Zucker is a "top-six" NHL forward.

How he does in the next few weeks may impact what they do on Draft day. A few hundred thousand now or a million or two extra down the road is nothing when your team payroll is around $50 million.

The Wild are in love with their young prospects and they figure that they might be able to ride that talent in the playoffs in a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Aluum:

Having Zucker for two years and 12 days will help free up cap space for the Wild in 2-3 years as other players approach free agency.

The Wild don't want everyone becoming a free agent at the same time. Too much risk.

Zucker loves it because he's one year closer to the "big ticket" - the more lucrative second NHL contract.

SquidDownMyPants said...

Still think he is gripping the stick to tight? Who posted that Gwoz should bench him for being selfish?

Hahahahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Zucker. I echo the comments from above. Man, he was great to watch. A player you love to have on your team. Can't wait to watch him in the NHL and see him take his game to the next level.

p.s. i'm convinced that Beau is leaving now too. I can't think of a team since the 2006 or 2007 Badgers that won the title, that has lost so much talent to early signings (i.e. not including graduation). When healthy, those guys could have been 3 of the top 10 forwards in the country.

I think DU has probably lost 3 players to early signings in the past, but not of this caliber. Losing Carle and Stats was probably the closest we've come.

I'm offically depressed, but come September will pull it around and get excited for the prospects of another season. It will be exciting to see who our next stars at forward will be. Obviously Nick will be. Will Quentin show up his older brothers? Loney? Ostrow? Doremus? Knowlton? will one of the freshman have a big impact?

dusince59 said...

Everything will be fine in DU Hockey land. We have lost better players than Zucker.

Anonymous said...

Any speculation as to whether Drew and Jason will make the DU Hockey awards evening next month?

Anonymous said...

Someone please tell me Beau isn't leaving too......

dggoddard said...

DU players that sign professional contracts generally don't make the banquet if recent patterns hold.

Usually they'll send some sort of a video speech.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts about the graduating seniors getting picked up by any teams?

Anonymous said...

Beau was a wounded soldier that was left behind.We screwed that one up big time.Congrats to Zuck.Best of success.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Jay Z. Probably won't happen but the Wild play the Panthers Thursday.... #15 V #17>

dggoddard said...

Zucker flew to Minnesota and if he passes the physical will practice on Wednesday.

Shore is off to San Antonio, so a DU match-up won't happen.

Shore may get some good playoff experience. San Antonio is on the bubble for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference.

Anonymous said...

Gwozdecky has never been able to hold on to players for that "one" extra year.....fact.

Anonymous said...

and by fact, 6:27 means an ignorant personal opinion that also happens to be false.

du78 said...

Lokks like Jay Z is knocking Chad Rau off of the Wild roster. Rau supposedly being sent to Houston.

Anonymous said...

Gwozdecky has 'held on' to many players for that 'extra' year, including Drew Shore, Bozak, Carle, Butler, Stastny, Dubielwicz to name a few, All of these guys turned down NHL offers to stay at DU for an extra year more than some expected.

That's a fact.

dggoddard said...

DU is also one of very few schools to never lose a verbal recruit to major juniors. 100% of the credit of retaining these players goes to Gwozdecky & the coaching staff.

MJ teams came hard after Colborne, Bennett, Drew Shore and I'm sure countless others.

Recent recruit Dylan Gambrell was pursued mightily by the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Shram said...

anyone see this in Russo's article at the end?

"Zucker is pronounced Zook-er, not Zucker"

Anonymous said...

Yes. Most Pio fans saw Jason discuss his last name pronunciation at the Final 5 Press conference.

Interesting story: Gabe Gauthier pronounced his name "Goth-eer" prior to coming to DU. However, he changed it to "Go-tee-ay/Go-Chay" as he rose in the hockey world, prefering the French-Canadian pronunciation.

Mike B said...

I think that its always frustrating for players and fans when a player leaves early without any hardware. He won gold and bronze in the World Juniors but doesnt have much to show in the way of team trophies for DU. I think that, as fans, you would like to see a player that you have been watching play and grow go out on top. When top prospects win championships, nobody blames them. When players have great careers but not much to show for it and leave early, everyone is left to wonder "What if?"
Unfortunately, the Denver program has developed into a fast track to the NHL and an alternative to playing major junior, which means that we will attract top talent, but we get to lease them for 2-3 years. Ten years ago, the program consisted of 4 year players who played a few years in the AHL or ECHL after school and are mostly in Europe or retired already.
Zucker was an exciting player to watch (although I hope that the NHL play-by-play guys can pronoun his name correctly) but I just hope that he is ready for the bigger, faster, tougher pro game. I always thought that he was a little soft. I hope that he is ready to take the big time hits and, most importantly, not complain to the refs when something doesnt go his way.
Best of luck Jason.

Anonymous said...

Another very telling endorsement of the way Gwoz runs his program is the VERY short list of players that left early that obviously shouldn't have.

The way I see it, a good case could be made that the following players should absolutely have stayed another year:

Dingle
Paukovitch*
Trotter**

(*Though Pauko wasn't ready for the next level, skill-wise; the aftermath of the Bina incident made it difficult for him to continue his college career...so maybe Gwoz gets a pass here?)

(**The disciplinary reasons behind Trotter's departure remain clouded in mystery, but he was definitely not ready for the next level. Since his hands were tied by the administration, though, Gwoz obviously gets a pass here.)

Anyway. Additionally, a POSSIBLE case could be made that the following players should have stayed another year (or more):

Cheverie
Skinner
Wiercoich

This, to me, indicates that, by in large, the players that come to DU respect Gwoz and the staff and value their counsel when it comes to whether or not they are "ready" for the next level.

Anonymous said...

Nick Shore is going to have to shoulder the DU offense next year hopefully with Gardena natives Beau Bennett and predator Wade Bennett potentially.

It will be interesting to see potential line combinations with incoming freshman.

WP

dggoddard said...

DU will roll seven Dmen most games next season.

I'd expect DU's forwards to be smaller and speedier next season. More like BC's recent teams, so Pham, Allen, Levin will get a shot at the top two lines and we'll have to see if they can stick up there.

Forwards
Ostrow /N.Shore/ Knowlton
Doremus /Q.Shore/ Loney
Larraza /Levin/ Pham
Tabrum / J.Mermis
(Arnold/Olszewski/Allen/ W.Bennett/Jacobson)

Defense
Phillips/Makowski
Didier/LaLeggia
Mayfield/D. Mermis
Zajac (Van Voorhis)

Goaltenders
Briiatin/Olkinoura/Murray

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any guesses on when we should expect Beau to sign? Due to the injury (and since he can't play this year), will he most likely wait to sign until closer to September?

dggoddard said...

Nolan Zajac is the leading scoring defenseman in the USHL this season with 10 goals and 28 assists thus far.

Very impressive.

Anonymous said...

Arnold, Allen and Pham aren't scoring much against teenagers in juniors. How the hell are they going to score against collegians?

Maybe Dakota Mermis or Zajac plays at forward?

Or maybe DU brings s 2013 forward early?

dggoddard said...

To me Tyler Pham needs another year in the USHL, so moving him back a year wouldn't surprise me.

Arnold is a grinder, so his future is on the 4th line.

Garrett Allen is a wild-card. He has 5 goals and 19 assists this season, so at least the assist numbers are respectable. He brings speed to the table, so I see him having a shot at contributing.

If Dakota Mermis is drafted by an NHL team this summer in the first couple of rounds then moving him to forward would be off the table. Certainly, based on the lines above he'd be an intriguing forward prospect at least.

DU hasn't had a third-liners who scored goals since Jon Foster in 2005. Certainly they are not going to score many goals next season on the third line.

dggoddard said...

Its not unusual after two and possibly three pro defections for a recruiting class to look in complete disarray.

We have great coaches and recruiters and they made many key moves last summer.

Picked up Olkinoura, deferred Van Voorhis & Allen to this season, brought in Doremus and Didier a year early and added a new assistant coach in Lasonde. Brought Dusty Jackson and John Ryder back for Redshirt 5th seasons.

All those moves were designed to bring home a championship. Sadly it didn't work out. Now DU may have to take some lumps next season.

But rest assured there's still plenty of moves to be made.