Fantasy Impact: Penguins Land Zucker
The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired sniper Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild for Alex Galchenyuk, a 2020 first-round draft pick, and stud prospect defenseman Calen Addison.
The Penguins get: a three-time 20-goal scorer and former 33-goal man who is in his prime and signed for the next three seasons after this one at a reasonable cap hit of $5.5M. Zucker, 28, is on the second-best points pace of his career, on track to reach 53.
The Wild get: a pretty good return here because Zucker was not a rental but a player who is signed at a competitive dollar amount for the next three-plus seasons. In Galchenyuk, who turns 26 on Wednesday (Happy Birthday Alex!), the Wild get a younger forward who is a four-time 19-goal scorer and former 30-goal man. The Penguins “sold low” here in that Galchenyuk struggled with his new team Arizona last season as well as with injuries, stumbling to just 41 points and minus-19. Things got worse upon his arrival in Pittsburgh as he suffered a lower-body injury three times (or perhaps the same injury getting tweaked and causing him to miss time). When he did play for the Penguins he was never able to click with Evgeni Malkin and was never given a chance on a line with Sidney Crosby. Other than in his rookie season, Galchenyuk saw the lowest average PP time in his career, seeing just 1:31 per contest. The Penguins truly did sell low here, but they got rid of a potential contract problem in the summer – who knows what the soon-to-be RFA will be asking for after a season such as this? Besides possibly reviving Galchenyuk’s career (and he hasn’t hit his prime yet), the Wild also received a first-round draft pick and one of the best prospect puck-moving defensemen in the business in Addison. The 19-year-old was taken 53rd overall in 2018 and was widely considered Pittsburgh’s top prospect. In January’s Top Fantasy Prospects list I had him ranked 24th. You can check out our DobberProspects profile on Addison here.
Fantasy Players Impacted: When this section involves a Pittsburgh forward you immediately have to look at the current lines that involve Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Last game, Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon lined up with Sid, while Jared McCann and Bryan Rust had Malkin. The weakest link here is Simon, so he’s the guy out in favor of Zucker. The next question becomes one of chemistry. If Zucker clicks with Crosby the way Jake Guentzel or Chris Kunitz did, or the way James Neal clicked with Malkin back in the day, then Zucker goes from a 55-point player to a 75-point player you can mark my words. Many have tried and failed at this over the years, from Colby Armstrong and David Perron to Simon and Conor Sheary. But just the strong chance that Zucker could be the next Kunitz has fantasy owners’ eyes sparkling.
Losing Addison puts Pierre-Olivier Joseph square on the radar of keeper league owners. He is now the best high-upside puck-moving option that the Penguins have in the pipeline, with little competition when he’s ready to make the jump in two years. Addison, on the other hand, is probably not going to make the Wild any sooner than he would have made Pittsburgh. And now instead of passing to the likes of Crosby and Malkin he’ll be dishing to Staal and Fiala. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. And while I think the Wild would be wise to hang onto Matt Dumba and not make any knee-jerk moves based on his production this year, adding Addison (say that three times fast) certainly opens up some options if the team indeed goes full-on rebuild.
Galchenyuk has played center before, but teams tend to prefer him on the wing so he’ll likely slot straight into Zucker’s old spot and likely not disrupt the current lines at all. Zucker has mostly played with Mats Zuccarello and Eric Staal this season, but lately he’s lined up with Mikko Koivu and Ryan Hartman. As the new guy and as a former first-round pick, I can see Galchenyuk starting off with Staal and Zuke.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
- Jason Zucker
- Alex Galchenyuk
- Sidney Crosby
- Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
- Dominik Simon
- Calen Addison
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