When the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Jason Zucker just before the COVID shutdown and the bubble playoffs, they got a pretty solid producer for the top six.
In his first 15 games with the Penguins, Zucker scored six goals and six assists for 12 points before the world paused.
Ever since then, however, Zucker hasn’t been the same player; an injury prone forward who you can tell has the skill, but lacks the finishing ability.
Over the two years from 2020-21 to 2021-22, Zucker only appeared in 79 games and the numbers slipped big time.
Injuries got in the way, but Zucker only scored 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points over two seasons.
The regression in play and health brought up the conversation of possibly cutting bait and trading away Zucker.
Through nine games in 2022-23, however, Zucker looks like he found his old form.
A pair of goals and six assists for eight points is a step in the proper direction, but it’s also his underlying numbers that show just how good Zucker has been this year.
Zucker is leading Penguins forwards in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) with 63.41% and a corsi for (CF%) of 55.51%.
For reference, last season Zucker had a xGF% of 53.86 and a CF% of 50.67; big improvements across the board.
2022-23 is an important year for Zucker; it’s the final year of his contract and with him playing in the top six alongside Evgeni Malkin, he needed to be vastly improved.
So far, he’s not just improved but turned into one of the better forwards on the team.
While much of the bottom six has struggled to get their skills put together, Zucker has turned over a new leaf and is well on his way to a turnaround of a season.
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