Zucker reflects on whirlwind spring with Wild
SATURDAY'S STORY LINES: The Minnesota Wild's season winds down tonight at Xcel Energy Center, against Phoenix. While the Wild will miss the playoffs this season the team and fans have a lot to look forward to. The team has shown promise since Mikko Koivu has returned going, 5-3-1.
Fans also have a lot to look forward to with up-and-coming prospects.
One of those prospects fans have been able to see up close is Jason Zucker. The forward signed an entry-level contract on March 27 out of the University of Denver. The 20-year-old will play in his sixth NHL game tonight, and the forward feels the time he has spent in Minnesota will give him confidence coming into training camp next season.
"That is huge for me," Zucker noted. "I will have the confidence that I know some of the guys in the locker room and those details (of the Wild system) that they are making me learn right now are going to help a lot. Not having to worry about that is big."
It's always a big adjustment jumping from the college to pro level. Zucker feels the experience this season helped him identify parts of his game that he needs to improve on going forward to be successful in the NHL.
"I've had to work on a lot of different things," Zucker explained. "Try to find parts of my game that I could get away with in college that you can't quite get away with here."
"Away from the puck, overall, I think I can be better," he added. "In the defensive zone getting pucks out,things like that. Sometimes you can get away with a turnover in college that you can't get away with here."
The rookie may need to make some adjustments on the ice, but in the locker room his teammates made him feel at home right away.
"All the guys have been great to me," Zucker said, "messing around with me and having a lot of fun. That's been good.The guys are great guys and easy to get along with, and they are all great hockey players."
TWO MORE CALL-UPS: Defensemen Kris Fredheim and Chay Genoway were recalled from Houston Saturday. Genoway, a University of North Dakota alum,will make his NHL debut tonight.He will be the 47th Wild player to suit up this season.
HE SAID IT: "They are going to be a motivated group and they have been playing really well. And I think that there's a real significant difference between having home ice and not for them, and I think they recognize that. So,I expect them to be ready to go for that." --- Wild coach Mike Yeo on Phoenix, which can claim home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a win tonight.