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Wild Vs. Panthers: Jason Zucker To Make Debut Thursday

The Wild don't have a playoff spot to play for, but with 2010 second-round pick Jason Zucker expected to make his NHL debut, Thursday's contest with Florida has a storyline worth following.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Jason Zucker, drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Wild poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Jason Zucker, drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Wild poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The playoff-race storyline has long since vanished. But a late-season addition to add some intrigue to the Minnesota Wild's game Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

On Tuesday, the Wild, already eliminated from playoff contention, signed its 2010 second-round pick, left wing Jason Zucker. The University of Denver star, who just finished his sophomore season, practiced with the team on Wednesday and is expected to play Thursday.

Zucker, 20, is excited for his debut. According to an AP story, the Las Vegas native said,

"I couldn't sleep last night."

Of the late-season experience, Zucker added,

"It's going to let me know what I have to work on this summer."

Zucker was second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference with 22 goals in 28 games. He also had 24 assists.

The Panthers come into the game with a 37-24-15 record and are bearing down on their first division crown in franchise history. They have struggled on the road, compiling a 17-15-5 record. That might be moot, however, as the Wild's 17-16-4 home record is the second-worst of any team in the West.

Thursday's game starts at 8 ET and will be on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness. You can check out more hockey news from around the league at SB Nation's NHL page.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.