Wild Trade Zucker to the Penguins

by | Feb 10, 2020 | News, NHL, Rumors | 14 comments

The Minnesota Wild traded winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional 2020 first-round pick, and defense prospect Calen Addison

The Minnesota Wild trade winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a failed attempt to acquire Zucker last May, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford gets his man.The 28-year-old winger is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $5.5 million. With 14 goals and 29 points in 45 games this season, he’s on pace to exceed 20 goals and 40 points for the fourth consecutive year. Depending on how well he meshes with his new linemates (Sidney Crosby? Evgeni Malkin?), he could finish with much more.

Rutherford recently indicated he was in the market for a scoring winger after left winger Jake Guentzel suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Zucker skates on the right side, but Rutherford suggested the versatility of his existing wingers meant he wasn’t fussy over which side his trade target played. Perhaps this means Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust move to the left side to make room for Zucker.

With over $68.9 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, the addition of Zucker could leave the Penguins squeezed for salary-cap space. Goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. Both will seek substantial raises, meaning one could be traded this summer. Defenseman Justin Schultz is an unrestricted free agent and could price himself out of Pittsburgh unless Rutherford frees up more cap space.

That’s a problem for the off-season. For now, the Penguins signaled they’re a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season.

The Wild, meanwhile, have needed a roster rebuild for some time. Whether trading Zucker means this is the start of a full rebuild or merely another effort to retool on the fly remains to be seen.

It’s the first significant move by Bill Guerin since taking over as GM last summer. In Galchenyuk, he gets a winger with decent offensive skills who’s now on his fourth team since 2018. Slated to become a UFA this summer, the 26-year-old was sidelined by an injury to start this season and struggled upon his return to fit in with the talent-laden Penguins. Depending on his performance over the remainder of the schedule, he could be joining his fifth team this summer.

Reports indicate the first-round pick in 2020 could revert to 2021 if the Penguins miss the playoffs and decide to push it back a year. That’s unlikely, considering where the Penguins are in the standings. It’ll give the Wild two first-round picks in this year’s draft.

Addison could be the real prize for the Wild. Selected in the second round (53rd overall) by the Penguins in 2018, the 19-year-old is said to a top defensive prospect. He’s got 43 points in 39 games this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and helped Canada win gold at the 2020 World Junior Championships.


  1. Alex Galchenyuk has 28 games to prove he belongs or it’s another high draft pick 3rd overall that’s a bust but coming from Pittsburgh Bill Guerin should know what he’s getting.

  2. Not happy with what we gave up to get him as a pens fan.

  3. Wow! That’s a bit of an overpayment, but zucker could add some scoring punch! I think galchenyuk will be in the khl next year.

    • Pitts had to pay to get Zucker and to off load Galchenyuk.

      A late 1rst round and a prospect may not be to high a price for anorher chance at Stanley.

    • GMJR gave up a lot but the Pens are obviously all in again. And Crosby and Malkin aren’t getting any younger.
      May be Galchenyuk will get traded again for a late round pick

  4. Well Jimbo went out and got a forward

    This was severe over-payment in my mind

    The first was a given and no issues whatsoever there; but handing them Addison (who was touted as the “new Letang” and was hoped for as replacing Letang (as top pairing puck moving D when at the end of Letang’s current contract) was just crazy

    Jimbo did NOT have to throw them G-Chuck; as Guentz’s space would have allowed the acquisition of Zucker w/o doing that. Forcing Billy G to take on G-chuck is probably what kicked the extra plus from something like Joseph or Legare to Addison. Crying shame.

    I was hoping for Tatar (and seeing this deal and hearing now that Montreal would likely have taken a first and Legare) but Jimbo apparently didn’t even try. According to TSN, he was waiting for Bergevin to open up any channels before giving Bergevin a call. That is just nutty. Pure lunacy. He could have had a much better player for less given up; less Cap hit; and only affecting the Cap for one more year.

    Zucker is middle 6 winger with one 30 goal season (17/18) under his belt; (no other time getting over 22) but has faltered since and was only 6th on Minn (a much much weaker team than Pens) this year; had recently been on 4th line duties and also benched. Some of that of course was the conflict with Minn coaches and the uncertainty and upheaval of a potential deal. However, some of that would have to have been due to performance.

    Zucker is also a very very poor playoff performer…. Only 8 points in 31 games; 1 point in the last 10 playoff games and only 3 points in the last 16 games.

    Zucker for sure will bring grit; is a good 200’ player; has reasonable speed; and has term (albeit it just may be a tad heavy in coming years relative to expected performance).

    I expect him to come out of the gate with production (change of scenery and trying to show up /prove they were wrong Minn.)

    I’m hoping that this continues through YE and into and all of playoffs; but I fear that a repeated unproductive finish to the season and/or poor (repeating past performances) playoffs; will just make him the Pens “new” G-Chuck.

    Pens still in a precarious situation with Dumo and Marino both out for at least the rest of this month. They need a depth D as well. Trade cupboard is bare; unless they can get a team to take the LTIR Bjugstaad.

    For the value of a 1st, Addison, and G-Chuck; I’m confident that GMJR could have (maybe requiring two trades) received both a UFA forward (of equal or greater value than Zucker) and a depth D-man.

    I’m very confident that Blake would have been all over 1st and Addison and G-Chuck for Toffoli and Hutton or Forbort (maybe even Martinez !!) . That for sure is a better return than Zucker and only tied to any cap for this year.

    1st , Addison, and G-Chuck plus one of the depth Pens Fwds like Laffy or Simon probably could have gotten Palmeiri and Vatts. Massive upgrade to just getting Zucker.

    Would Sharks have moved on 1st and Addison plus another depth piece for Dillon and Lebanc?

    Stevie Y would have likely salivated at a 1st and Addison and G-Chuck for AA and Green (with Sal retained to make Cap balance out)

    I’m absolutely hoping and praying that I’m wrong about Zucker and that he substantially improves and pulls up his playoff socks and turns his historical playoff blunders into something of the distant past.

    Fingers crossed

    Go Pens Go

    • PENGY…
      Jason Zucker is a good player although i would have rather had Palmeri.
      Jason Zucker is fast, skilled, and can score. He also fits our up tempo fore check put pressure on the puck system.

      I just hope Rutherford isn’t done because we need more.. a defense man and another forward

    • Pengy, spot on assessment of trade. Totally agree. And yes SJ would/should have done 1st and Addison for Dillon and Lebanc.

    • You are wrong about Zucker. Zucker is who Sullivan and RJ wanted…A late 1st round pick that may never step foot in the NHL and a defensive prospect that needs a lot of work…Zucker the best fit for the Pens according to Bob Errey, Rupp, and Phil Borque. I’ll take there comments over some fan who likes to complain…

  5. Perhaps, Rutherford made this trade while looking at the quality of the man as well as at the value of the player. He’s been around long enough to khow what elements make a team a team. Zucker seems to possess the character that unifies diverse personalities in a common cause. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy last year, which is given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community. A Penguins fan may grimace upon reading about this trde, but the trade may look better on the ice than it does on paper.

  6. I believe both sides are happy with the trade. The buyer is happy and the seller is happy. Sets up a price for other teams and once again Pittsburgh starts off the madness now we will see who else will react

  7. Its a steep price but he is signed at a good cap hit for 3 more years, that is the reason the price is higher than if he wouldnt be

  8. Im on the fence about the over pay. The pick in this years draft is necessary. The salary dump was necessary in Gal. That D prospect….reminds me of Ottawa getting Branstrom. Oh he’s the top D prospect bla bla…..so far he doesn’t look like it.

    Wait a year or two Pengy. I bet there’s another “new Letang” you haven’t even heard of yet who the scouts are all raving about.

  9. Speaking of top tier defencemen, after watching that bomb from Chychrun the other night against Montreal, how great do the Wings feel that they traded down to take Cholowski instead?