The Minnesota Wild have activated Mats Zuccarello from injured reserve and expect him to be in the lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, they’ve also moved Joel Eriksson Ek to IR with a lower-body injury, retroactive to October 17th.
Zuccarello, the Wild’s big offseason signing, was off to a disappointing start even before he got injured, recording zero points in his first four games while playing fewer than 15 minutes a night (his lowest average since his rookie season). Six penalty minutes, terrible possession metrics and a -6 rating didn’t endure him to many Minnesota fans early, but hopefully now at full health he can get back to his previous ability.
There’s no questioning that Zuccarello can be an effective NHL player, but signing a 32-year old to a five-year, $30MM contract always seemed concerning for a team in Minnesota’s position. It was one of the final moves former GM Paul Fenton was allowed to make before he was fired and replaced by Bill Guerin, and didn’t seem to jive with his previous moves to make the roster younger.
Minnesota is off to a dreadful start at 2-6, but did at least win their most recent game against the Montreal Canadiens. The team desperately needs more scoring, something that hopefully Zuccarello can provide now that he’s back on the ice.