Wild eager to give Zucker head start on NHL career

DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer Published:

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild have a strong, deep group of prospects turning pro next season. They're giving one of them a head start.

After signing forward Jason Zucker to an entry-level contract, the Wild brought the former University of Denver standout to practice on Wednesday and plan to play him on Thursday for his NHL debut.

There are only six games left for the Wild, and this starts Zucker's free-agency clock a year earlier. They were willing to do that instead of sending him to the Houston Aeros, their AHL affiliate, so Zucker could evaluate his game and have a better idea about what to work on this summer. To make room for Zucker, the Wild reassigned forward Chad Rau to the Aeros.