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Zucker agrees to terms on five-year contract with Wild

Forward gets $5.5 million annually, avoids arbitration hearing

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

Jason Zucker agreed to terms on a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. It has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

Zucker, a restricted free agent, had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 28.

"I'm excited for what I feel is an elevated role and what I feel is a bigger role on the team," the 26-year-old forward said. "I'm not satisfied with what I did last year. I am excited to keep working this summer and get back at it."


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Zucker had NHL career highs in goals (33), assists (31) and points (64) in 82 games with the Wild last season. He was scoreless in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"When we look at the League now, we look at the speed that has started to dominate our game," Minnesota general manager Paul Fenton said. "He generates so many chances based off of his speed and his skill level. It's really hard to find natural goal-scorers, and he's had a history of being able to score goals. For us, that was [the] most important ingredient that we were looking to solidified here, and that's why it made sense for us to sign him to a long-term deal."

Minnesota selected Zucker in the second round (No. 59) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He has 172 points (97 goals, 75 assists) in 330 NHL games and has increased his goals, assists and points in each of the past two seasons. He has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 31 playoff games.

"The more I continue to work on that and get better at that, the better off I am going to be and the more I am going to be able to produce at a more consistent level," Zucker said. "... I know that I have the talent, the ability and the skill, the grit and all of that stuff to play in this league at a high level, it's just whether it's consistently every night."

Video: Jason Zucker signs a five-year deal with the Wild

Zucker was a finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy last season, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities and made a contribution in his community.

"We've been talking all along here," Fenton said. "This is not something that wasn't going on. There was constant interaction between the agents and ourselves. ... I had a good long discussion (with Zucker's agent) and finally just put everything on the table, and when we were able to do that, it made sense for both of us."

Zucker scored six straight goals for the Wild, one shy of the NHL record, from Nov. 8-11 (Cy Denneny, Ottawa Senators, Feb. 28-March 7, 1921; Brian Noonan, Chicago Blackhawks, Dec. 27-29, 1991). Zucker had eight goals in five games from Nov. 8-16, including his first NHL hat trick in a 3-0 win at the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 9.

The Wild avoided an arbitration hearing with defenseman Matt Dumba by agreeing to terms on a five-year, $30 million contract July 21.

Minnesota has made the playoffs the past six seasons but has lost in the first round four times and in the second round twice.

 "Every year that so-called group of young guys keeps getting older," Zucker said. "I think in the past couple of years we've picked up our roles a little bit and I think we have to continue to do that. I think from [Mikael] Granlund to myself, to [Nino Niederreiter] and Charlie [Coyle], now down to Luke Kunin and [Jordan] Greenway. ... We need all of the young guys to keep elevating their role because we know the older guys are going to do it. ... So us young guys have to make sure we keep up our game and our roles and continue to build the team that way."

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