Jason Zucker has had a week to remember. Not only was he named the NHL’s First Star of the week due to his six goals and an assist in a four-game span, Zucker also recorded his first career hat trick in the Minnesota Wild’s 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. The forward followed up his hat trick by scoring the only goal in Saturday’s game against the Flyers, and he now has credit for Minnesota’s last six goals.
On top of this of this insane week, Zucker has become an important player for the Wild over the last few seasons. Last year he recorded his second 20-goal campaign in the NHL during a 34-point season while posting 2.33 points per 60 at 5-on-5, which placed him fifth among 62 forwards who played 1,100 or more 5-on-5 minutes in 2016-17 behind only Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Mark Scheifele, and Nicklas Backstrom. The line Zucker formed with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund last season was one of the best in the league, as they were one of 15 lines to play over 500 minutes together posting a 65.57 goals for percentage and a 58.57 expected goals for percentage.
Needless to say, the Wild have been rewarded for drafting and developing Zucker, as they made the most of a pick that was passed around quite a bit before the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
According to Hockey-Reference, there have been two defensemen who have played 60 games or more for the Flyers and failed to register a goal. One of them was Rob Zettler, a blue liner who played for five other teams in his career to go along with his stint in Philadelphia. He had five assists, 44 shots on goal, and 103 PIMs in 65 games for the Orange and Black between the 1993-1994 season and the 1994-1995 campaign.
The second is Denis Gauthier. Former general manager Bobby Clarke swung for the fences at the 2006 trade deadline, acquiring a pair of Big Name Difference Makers in Niko Dimitrakos and Gauthier, who came over from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Josh Gratton and a pair of 2006 second-round picks (both of which were dealt to the Detroit Red Wings, who took Cory Emmerton at 41st overall and Shawn Matthias at 47th overall).
Known for his physical play, Gauthier took part in a total of 60 contests for the Flyers over the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. He posted four assists, 36 shots on goal, and 82 PIMs in that time before he was assigned to the Philadelphia Phantoms for the entirety of the 2007-08 season.
After being waived for a second time by the Flyers late in June of 2008, Paul Holmgren dealt Gauthier to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for right-handed defenseman Patrik Hersley (who played five games for the Phantoms and 15 games for the Reading Royals in 2008-09 before leaving for Sweden) and forward Ned Lukacevic, who was part of a trade in October of 2008 that brought Andrew Alberts to Philadelphia. Along with Gauthier, Holmgren sent a second-round pick in the 2010 draft to the Kings to complete the trade.
A little less than two years after the Gauthier trade, then-general manager of the Kings Dean Lombardi moved up four spots in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft from 19th overall to 15th overall to take defenseman Derek Forbort (while Vladimir Tarasenko was taken with the next pick). The team that originally had the 15th overall pick was the Florida Panthers, who ended up getting the 19th overall pick and the second-round pick that originally belonged to the Orange and Black, which turned into the 59th overall pick in that year's draft. The Panthers took hulking center Nick Bjugstad at 19th overall, but ended up moving the 59th overall pick.
On the second day of the 2010 draft, Dale Tallon, who recently became the Panthers' GM after watching a Chicago Blackhawks team he helped build end the franchise's 49-year Cup drought weeks earlier, decided to make a deal with the Minnesota Wild. After taking John McFarland 33rd overall, Alex Petrovic 36th overall, and Connor Brickley 50th overall in the second round, Tallon decided to swap the 59th overall pick with the Wild for a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick, both in 2010. With the 59th overall pick, Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher used the pick that originally belonged to the Flyers on Zucker, a winger who went on to record a total of 45 goals and 46 assists in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons at the University of Denver.
The third-round pick Tallon received from Fletcher was for the 69th (nice) overall pick. Florida used this pick to take right winger Joe Basaraba, who has never played a game in the NHL and has one assist in 22 AHL games over his career. He is currently with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the ECHL, and has eight points in 10 games for the New York Rangers' affiliate.
The fourth-round pick was for the 99th overall selection, which Tallon used on Joonas Donskoi. After his rights expired with the Panthers, Donskoi signed an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks on May 19th, 2015. He has 22 goals and 39 assists in 153 games with the Sharks since the start of the 2015-16 season, as he has five goals and three assists in 16 games this season.
Not every pick in a draft is going to hit, especially picks taken outside the first round. However, this series of trades shows that every pick does matter. That’s why managing every single asset is important, even if it means thinking twice about throwing in a pick to even out a trade to land Hersley and Lukacevic.