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Jason Zucker Says He Has ‘More To Give’ If Predators Bring Him Back



Photo of Jason Zucker, right, by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Jason Zucker switched between past and present tense as he reflected Tuesday on his time with the Nashville Predators.

The 32-year-old forward isn’t sure where his NHL career might take him next, but he’s hopeful it won’t involve a move at all.

“I would love to be back,” he said. “I loved everything about being here. For me, it’s kind of out of my hands now, but I made it clear to Barry [Trotz] and [Andrew Brunette] that I’d like to be back. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, and I’d love to help contribute moving forward.”

Six Predators players are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, including Zucker. It makes his future unclear just months after the Predators acquired him at the trade deadline from Arizona for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

Trotz expressed his desire to keep each pending free agent, but he acknowledged that likely won’t be possible due to salary-cap constraints. He said the team is aiming to get “a little bit younger” and be “a little bit faster” next season.

For his part, Zucker proved to be a valuable addition as the Predators pushed the Vancouver Canucks to six games in their Stanley Cup Playoff series.

The veteran had a goal, two assists and a plus-4 rating in six playoff games against Vancouver while serving as an agitator on a line with Colton Sissons and fellow deadline acquisition Anthony Beauvillier. He also scored five goals, had two assists and delivered 24 hits across 18 regular-season games.

“I thought they did a really good job of staying present and helping the team,” Trotz said of Beauvillier and Zucker. “I think in the playoffs, Jason had the good combination of not only speed but power. He played the game really hard. Same with Beau – I thought they were good assets for us in the playoffs.”

Zucker was familiar with Brunette from their time together in Minnesota, where Brunette served as assistant coach and assistant general manager. But it still took time for him to adjust to Brunette’s fast-paced offensive system, which Zucker described as “the polar opposite of what I was playing in Arizona.”

He believes another season with the Predators could produce better results.

“I think I can contribute even more offensively,” Zucker said. “I think I still have more to give. I hope I can show that next year.”

Whether he gets the opportunity or not will likely come down to dollars and cents.

Zucker is just one season removed from a 27-goal, 48-point performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2022-23 that helped him land a one-year, $5.3 million deal with Arizona last offseason.

If Zucker had begun the year with the Predators, that figure would’ve made him the team’s fourth highest-paid player behind only Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Ryan McDonagh. Zucker earned more in 2023-24 than any of Nashville’s other pending free agents.

While no contract extension talks have occurred yet, Zucker didn’t leave his exit meeting this week without communicating his interest in returning to Nashville.

“I pay my agent to do that for me, so I’m going to let him do that,” he said. “I know Barry and the rest of the staff have a bunch of stuff they have to do. Ultimately, it’s in their court. We’ll just have to see what they want to do, and we’ll go from there.”

Follow Russell Vannozzi on X/Twitter @RussellV_MSP.

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