Jason Zucker was nearly traded for Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson earlier this summer. That deal fell through when Kessle refused to waive his no trade clause to go to Minnesota, but the fact of the matter remains the same - the price for Zucker is low, as Pittsburgh was able to attach the terrible Jack Johnson deal to the trade to get out from under that contract.
Zucker can be had for cheap - does he fit in Columbus?
After losing Artemi Panarin, Columbus will be hurting for production on the left wing. Zucker, along with new signing Gustav Nyquist, could help fill that void. Zucker’s last three seasons:
2016-17: 79 games played, 22-25-47
2017-18: 82 games played, 33-31-64
2018-19: 81 games played, 21-21-42
Zucker has not produced well, and is overpaid for his contract. After the 2017-18 season, he signed a 5 year, $5.5 million AAV deal with the Minnesota Wild before regressing this season.
The Jackets, meanwhile, are thin at left win. After Nyquist, players on the left include Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alexandre Texier, and Nick Foligno. Foligno is on the downturn of his career, Bjorkstrand has yet to put it together for an 82 game season, and Texier has played fewer than 15 pro games. Some stability could be nice on the left side of the lineup.
To get Zucker, Columbus would likely have to send a goal scoring player OR a high end prospect and a pick to Minnesota. So let’s make it happen.
To Minnesota: Eric Robinson, Sonny Milano, 2020 fourth round pick
To Minnesota: Oliver Bjorkstrand
To Columbus: Jason Zucker
Trading Bjorkstrand would be tough for many, but Bjorkstrand is the definition of a streaky player. He has not played well for a full season yet in his career and, despite all of the hype, has yet to truly command a top six position in a lineup that affords him an opportunity to do so. While more expensive, Zucker offers more consistency on the left hand side.
It’s not likely that Columbus gets Zucker, and the price is probably too steep for the team to pay. But, if he’s available, the team should at least kick the tires for some consistency in the wake of losing Artemi Panarin.
Or just go with the kids for a year and take your lumps. That works too.