On Tuesday morning, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker was in a regular jersey at the Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate. Such things aren’t always indicative of status because morning skates are often low-impact, safe hockey spaces for rehab.
However, head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Zucker was a full go.
“He was full contact today–full participation. He skated with Ty (Hennes) for 40 minutes before the morning skate. Then he joined the morning skate in full capacity,” Sullivan said. “So, that’s the last hurdle before the return to play–getting him in a game-real environment and getting him full contact. So I think that’s a significant step in the process.”
Zucker, 30, skated for 40 minutes before the skate with skills coach Ty Hennes then stayed for the morning skate in a full-contact sweater. Zucker has missed the last 29 games after core muscle surgery. He chose not to make excuses when he spoke with the media last week, but perhaps his performance was hampered by the injury.
In 31 games, Zucker has only 13 points (6-7-13) and was not an impact player.
When Zucker is activated, Brock McGinn will be the last Penguins regular who remains out of the lineup. The Penguins also acquired injured defenseman Nathan Beaulieu at the NHL trade deadline, who won’t be healthy until the playoffs. GM Ron Hextall indicated Beaulieu was merely a depth acquisition.
On Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins face the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena. Sullivan did not indicate Zucker would be in the lineup, as he likely will take more time to get into game shape.