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Zucker, Parise happy to see Zuccarello, Hartman join Wild

Additions should spark offense after missing playoffs last season

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

EDINA, Minn. -- Jason Zucker and Zach Parise believe the additions of forwards Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman can help the Minnesota Wild return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

The Wild (37-36-9), who failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, signed Zuccarello (five years) and Hartman (two years) on July 1.

"Last season was disappointing," Zucker said Wednesday at Da Beauty League, a weekly set of 3-on-3 games that feature NHL players with ties to Minnesota. "It's not where we wanted to be, and we have to fix that this summer. We made a couple of moves that should be good for us. … We have to get after it hard this summer and get to training camp."

 

[RELATED: Zuccarello agrees to five-year contract with WildHartman agrees to two-year contract with Wild]

 

Zucker has been mentioned in trade rumors during the past few months, but he remains with the Wild. The 27-year-old forward had 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) last season after setting NHL career highs in goals (33), assists (31) and points (64) in 2017-18.

"It's not easy," he said of the rumors. "But you have to set it aside at some point and be ready to go."

Parise, who led the Wild with 28 goals and 61 points, said he is pleased with the signings of Zuccarello and Hartman after Minnesota finished 27th in the NHL with 210 goals scored. The Wild scored one goal or fewer in 24 games.

But Parise, a left wing who turns 35 on July 28, said Minnesota was missing a playmaker, a role Zuccarello is expected to fill. The 31-year-old has 355 points (114 goals, 241 assists) in 511 NHL games with the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm7: Zuccarello scores off favorable bounce

"A lot of our issue is creating offense," said Parise, who made his Da Beauty League debut. "It speaks for itself when you get shut out 11 times. That doesn't happen by accident. We have to do a better job of playing in the offensive zone and creating more opportunities. … We have plenty of guys that can shoot and plenty of guys that can score, but we've been missing that someone to make the play and that someone to set a guy up.

"I think Zuccarello should help us. He's a great playmaker, and I think that's an area we lack. He's a good passer, and I think he'll help us create a lot of offense because we definitely need the help."

Zucker said it will be beneficial to have another right-handed shot with Hartman on the roster. He also likes Hartman's ability to get under the opposition's skin. The 24-year-old has 89 points (42 goals, 47 assists) in 245 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers.

"He's kind of an annoying guy to play against, a gritty-type player, so that will be really good for us," Zucker said. "He'll be a good third-line energy guy for us."

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