ST PAUL, Minn. — It's no surprise the Minnesota Wild are more invested in the future than the present. And it should be.
The Wild are on the outside of the current playoff picture and possess one of the older rosters in the NHL. If Minnesota is determined to piece together a competitive team for years to come, it will likely come at a cost.
And sometimes it's a major cost.
In the Wild's most recent transaction, they're not only losing an impactful player on the ice, but losing an impactful player off the ice as well.
Forward Jason Zucker has been a prominent face in the local community. His wife, Carly, was a local TV reporter and currently hosts her own talk show on KFAN called Overtime with Carly Zucker.
The two have worked closely with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, and last June, Jason was recognized for their efforts. The Wild winger was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is given out annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.
Jason and Carly began a campaign in 2017 to raise money for the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the U of M Masonic Children's Hospital. They started with a personal donation of $160,000, and as of last June had raised more than $1.2 million.
On the ice, things weren't as steady. Over the past two seasons, Zucker's name was often associated with any trades involving the Wild, but on Monday evening, that speculation became reality.
Minnesota traded Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a pair of players: 25-year-old forward Alex Galchenyuk and 19-year-old defenseman Calen Addison – and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 draft.
Zucker was drafted by the Wild in the second round of the 2010 draft. He played two seasons at the University of Denver before making his Wild debut on March 29, 2012. He would go on to record 243 total points over 456 games with the Wild. His 132 goals is the fourth-most in franchise history and helped revive a team from a four-year playoff drought to a perennial playoff contender.
The Wild are currently five points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference, but should they sneak into the postseason with a late-season surge, Minnesota doesn't appear to have the makeup to provide any kind of a deep playoff run. They will miss Zucker's speed, as the current lineup is extremely short on it.
While Monday's move provided the Wild with a much-needed injection of youth on an otherwise veteran-laden roster, Zucker's influence off the ice may be the toughest void to fill. His buddy, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, left a heartfelt post on Twitter for Zucker. The two men, plus their wives and families, became quite close through their dedication to bettering the Twin Cities community.