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Zajac gets contract extension: Eight years, $46 million

Jan 16, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT

Travis Zajac Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils have made the first big splash under the new collective bargaining agreement, signing center Travis Zajac to an eight-year, $46 million contract extension.

Zajac, 27, was New Jersey’s first-round pick at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and has spent his entire six-year career with the Devils.

In 2010, he posted career highs in goals (25), assists (42) and points (67) and in 2011, became the franchise’s record holder for most consecutive games played (401).

Zajac missed a large chunk of the 2011-12 season with a torn Achilles, appearing in just 15 regular season contests (posting 2G-4A-6PTS). He recovered in time for the playoffs and was a huge part of New Jersey’s Stanley Cup finals run, posting 14 points in 24 games while scoring two game-winning goals.

With the new deal, Zajac will become New Jersey’s second highest-paid player — behind Ilya Kovalchuk — when his extension begins in 2013-14.

Zajac will carry a $5.75 million cap hit, up from his current $3.87 million.

Note: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos points out the deal is indicative of the “no more front-loaded contracts” theme featured in the new CBA.

Zajac will make $3.5 million in the first year of his deal, $5 million the next, $6.5 million from years three through six, and $5.75 million in the final two years.

He also has a full no-trade clause, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

  1. martysbetter - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    So glad they locked him up before he became a UFA, didn’t need another Parise saga.

    Zajac is a workhorse and a fantastic center, I’m estatic that he’s going to be a Devil for the next 8 years.

    Wonder if any of Clarkson/Zubrus/Elias are in the works as well.

    • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      “fantastic center”? When did they change the definition of fantastic.

      Zajac isn’t a top 50 center in the NHL

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Maybe not 50 more like 40

        Evgeni Malkin,
        Steven Stamkos,
        Claude Giroux,
        John Tavares,
        Jason Spezza,
        Patrick Sharp,
        Anze Kopitar
        David Backes
        Henrik Zetterberg
        Jamie Benn
        Henrik Sedin
        Logan Couture
        Joe Thornton
        Patrice Bergeron
        Brad Richards
        Eric Staal
        Pavel Datsyuk
        Ryan Getzlaf
        Mike Ribeiro
        Olli Jokinen
        Mike Fisher
        Ryan Kesler
        David Krejci
        Jonathan Toews
        Tomas Plekanec
        Vincent Lecavalier
        Adam Henrique
        Jordan Staal
        Mike Richards
        Danny Briere
        Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
        Jeff Skinner

        And I could make an arguement he’s no better than Tomas Plekanec, Derek Stepan, Paul Stastny, Steve Ott, Mikhail Grabovski, Martin Hanzal or Tyler Bozak.

        There’s 4-5 rookies I would take over Travis as well

      • martysbetter - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        Do you watch the Devils?

        Didn’t think so, let me guess, you looked at some stats on ESPN and were left underwhelmed by his point total.

        Unless you actually watch him play regularly, you have no basis for determining the value he has for this team.

      • thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Seriously he missed 67 games last year and the year before that his linemate Parise got injured for the entire season just a few weeks into the year with a new coach John MacLean who had NO idea what he was doing. Zajac is a very good player.

        Plus you’re talking about a guy who has 6 seasons in with the Devils, and you’re going to sign him for another 8. You take your Bozak and Grabovski and have a great time scoring meaningless points in undisciplined blowout losses.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        So he’s injury prone too?

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        No, Im just not a massive Devils homer who knows that Zajar is AT BEST, a 2nd line center

      • martysbetter - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        What part of “the franchise’s record holder for most consecutive games played (401)” don’t you understand?

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:33 PM

        Here a taste of non-homer reality. Go to the comment section, see what people who know much more about the game think about this contract.

        http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=413686

        Top rated comments from those Canadians (who have forgotten more about hockey any you devil homers)

        2theninez
        2 hours ago
        wow, just no, way too much

        fastedddy$$
        2 hours ago
        here we go again…….sheeesh (facepalm)

        tmaclan
        2 hours ago
        LOL Here we go again!!! Teams throwing ridiculous amounts of money at so so players. I like Zajac, but almost 6 million per year, C’mon!!!

        atburrows
        2 hours ago
        And why did we have a lockout? The only part that the lock-out helped was the term. Not the $$$.

        cochisecanada
        2 hours ago
        good job making yet another stupid deal owners. 20 goal scorer gets 6 million a year. for 8 full years. weren’t we trying stop this?

        beeblebrox
        2 hours ago
        Despite the new CBA, it continues…

        prohockeylife
        2 hours ago
        way too much!!!!!

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        canada-goose
        2 hours ago
        And we had this strike for this exact same reason. it has always been the owners fault. signing and overpaying players. what a joke.

        nickmaster88
        2 hours ago
        wow huge cash. I thought the lockout would stop second tier guys like Zajac from getting 5.75 eight year deals….

        vancity787
        2 hours ago
        For a guy whos career high is 67 Points? This is ridiculous.

        oil_spill””””
        1 hour ago
        WOW! The NHL really taught everyone a lesson with that lockout didn’t they!

        uknowuagreewithme
        2 hours ago
        Well I am glad the lockout wasn’t for nothing (sarcasm!) Nearly 6 million/year for a guy who has only had two season with 20 or more goals and never cracked 30????? I see the GM’s have really learned a lesson.

        conqueso
        1 hour ago
        I guess Jamie Benn’s and Ryan Orelly’s asking price just went up.

        c-tron
        2 hours ago
        Someone might need to remind Lou the cap is going DOWN next year, not up.

        jets2011
        2 hours ago
        So the point of the lockout was what exactly?

        c-tron
        2 hours ago
        Lou is taking contract advice from Homer I see.

        Enjoying the reality of what smarter than u hockey people think about this signing?

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Oh more facts for you Devil know-nothings
        Zajac would be a 3rd line Center in Det, Pit and Philly and probably a few other teams.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        Zajac*

        But you homers get back to me in 4 years and tell me how 4 more years at 5.75 is looking, the average Canadian hockey fan is laughing his head off at this fool contract.

        And that’s a fact

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        LOL @ consecutive games streaks that are long dead due to injury

      • zetaone - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        That’d explain why Crosby isn’t on that list lol… to chainblue points in a calendar season = skill.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        I d, it was easier to find the MASSIVE LIST required to find Centers better than Zajac.

        But why educate the daft and clueless, you boys keep thinking this is a good deal for the Devil while the rest of the hockey world laughs.

        Which is exactly what they are doing ATM

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        5.75mil a year for a guy that is 3 years removed from his one season where he scored over 20g. Good thing the new CBA got those crazy contracts under control.

      • zetaone - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        Is ‘homer’ the only adjective your brain can come up with to show dissent? That a new lolcats meme or… ?

      • martysbetter - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        Because comments sections are always a wealth of informed opinions….and you do realize that access to the TSN comments section isn’t restricted to only Canadians, right?

        You’re a kook, have fun cheering for whatever second-rate franchise you root for.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        When everyone is done voting and the top comments all say the same thing, yup it means something as long as it’s not political.

        Everyone and their dog are LOLing at your Devils for making a lucky to score 20 a 8 year offer with a no trade for 5.75 per year.

        EVERYONE how know ANYTHING about hockey, thinks your team just made a stupid mistake and is a text book example of why you can sign all the CBA’s you want but it will never stop GM’s from being stupid and spending too much money on boarderline players.

        Again you Devil homer with zero objectivity. You be sure to be here in 4 years so we can LOL about how pathetic it is that the Devils are STUCK with over-paying a 2nd line center for 4 more years.

        Im a Red Wings fans btw, Your team is a sack of garbage compared.

      • martysbetter - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        Hahaha wait wait wait, so after all this “Canadian Hockey” superiority complex you’ve been spewing…..you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan.

        See yourself out.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        Huh?
        Fact: Canadians know more about hockey than Americans
        The fact that I’m a Red Wings fans somehow change this fact?
        What a moron you are, you enjoy 8 years of being trapped with a player getting paid like a 70 point boarderline All Star, when in fact he’s a half a point per game player, coming off an injury where his play took a step down and has never had a 70 point season in his life.

        Leave it to the Devils to do something stupid like this and raise the bar for every other 2nd line player in the league.

        Accept the fact that this Canadian Red Wings fan since the 80’s has a clue about these things and you’re some clueless Devils homer who will be crying about Zajac in 4 years.
        STUCK with his and that contract till he’s 35
        LMAO, yup you enjoy that.

        20 goals 40 assists for 5.75m, and locking into that with no hope to escape for 8 straight.
        Hillarious

      • woodstakes - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        How does one’s nationality make them more informed on… well, ANYTHING?? How about those of us that grew up in ‘The State of Hockey’? Where there is NOTHING bigger than hockey. Where we grow up playing on ponds and lakes? Your trying to tell me that if i’m from International Falls, MN I am less informed about hockey than the guy who grew up just across the river in Fort Frances? LMAO Now i’m just using Minnesota as an argument point, there are plenty of people around this country that know an awful lot about hockey. The passion of hockey doesn’t ask what nationality you are and in today’s world you can easily educate yourself on just about anything you want.

        In short… your statements are ignorant!!

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        But generalizations are are just that, and a correct one, so cool story on the state of Minnesota, in Canada it’s coast to coast and x10.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:39 PM

        And also what you’re saying is Minnesota , now with Obamacare, is more like Canada than the rest of the USA. And you LOVE Minnesota right???? Great place to live is it not….being so similar with Canada and all….

      • woodstakes - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        *Oh and before you shoot your ever so hurtful ‘homer’ statement at me. In case you missed it I said “.. those of us who grew up in Minnesota..” so will let you just ponder who my favorite team is.*

      • yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        i like this move by lou zajac is a loyal player and he gets it done on both ends of the floor he scores he passes he plays on the power play penaly kill he is their best center and he will be for years to come
        Good move and glad to see travis in a devils uniform for a long time

      • yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        Your an idiot u know nothing about hockey do u even know who zajac is a quarter of the players u named aren’t even the same caliber as zajac and everyone ales gets paid a lot more than zajac he is a two way player he kills penalties he scores goals wins about 57% of his face-offs he plays on the power play he is a playmaker and he is a loyal player thats the full package and I’m glad they locked him up long term

    • yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      i like this move by lou zajac is a loyal player and he gets it done on both ends of the floor he scores he passes he plays on the power play penaly kill he is their best center and he will be for years to come
      Good move and glad to see travis in a devils uniform for a long time

    • yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      i like this move by lou
      zajac is a loyal player and he gets it done on both ends of the floor he scores he passes he plays on the power play penaly kill he is their best center and he will be for years to come
      Good move and glad to see travis in a devils uniform for a long time

    • yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      outstanding center penelty killer playmaker and goal scorer every year zajac seems to be growing as NHL player every year he is the best center on this team and I’m glad Lou locked him long term a good sign for the devils and their franchise for years to come

  2. ThatGuy - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Seems a bit high, but they probably couldn’t afford to let him hit FA next year.

  3. thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Wow big hit, but good for him he’s a great Devil, and Lou’s got all of his brothers in the system.

  4. quizguy66 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Now here’s a guy who would make an excellent captain. Well done, Lou!

    -QG

  5. sippindasyzurp - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Alright so these players were whining about all these so called “concessions” and then you see this?

    I think it’s time for another lockout.. Just kidding, but seriously it shouldn’t have taken this long, to be playing hockey..

    This just proves that no matter how much the players say they “give up” they still keep making more money every time. Which is what I have stated since the day the lockout started.

  6. valoisvipers - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Seems a little overpriced to me.Good player and all that, but 6 million a year is too much to pay for a 60 points guy.

    • ThatGuy - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      Look at their forwards in their prospect system and roster. They couldn’t afford to risk losing him for nothing.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        Yes you can, you don’t commit nearly 6 per season the the next 8 years for a 27 year 2nd liner because the lack replacements.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      I have to agree with you here. 6 million for 25 goals…. owners seem to be shooting themselves in the foot.

  7. tjvalley - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Good player, steep price. You don’t pay parise a little more then this guy?

    • thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Do you suppose the Devils didn’t offer Parise more than Zajac just signed for? Dope.

  8. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    First big mistake contract of the new CBA, that sure didn’t take long.
    5.75m and full NTC for a 2nd line center that takes him to 35 years old.

    Horrid contract that Devil fans will be lamenting half way through the deal

  9. thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    This guy played every game for 5 years before a freak injury working out in the offseason. He worked hard to get back for the end of last year. He has some huge moments in the playoffs for a finals run. He’s young, I’ve never heard a negative thing about him, the fans like him. If he was on the open market is there any way he gets less than $5M a year? He put up 62 and 67 points on the Devils. If you put him on a more offensive-minded team you could conceivably add another 5 points without straining too hard.

    Not a mistake.

    • killerpgh - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      I thought that same thing about Paul Martin…..it didn’t work out that way.

  10. jennettalia - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Good for him. As the article pointed out, the guy plays a lot of games and works hard. There’s a big value in a guy who can be that ironman. He wasn’t signed to be a top point producer, he was signed as a two-way guy to compliment Kovalchuk.

    I do think it’s a steep price, but for a guy who is consistently getting better defensively (his faceoff numbers go up every year, to 57% last year, and he’s doubling his giveaways with takeaways) and getting a boost offensively from moving up in the line.

    I wouldn’t expect PPG, but the guy will be the hard worker that every franchise needs. That comes with a price.

  11. tfaltin - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    GMs already pushing the contract limit. In 8 years when the owners opt out of the current CBA crying foul we’ll see this contract as the first of many that led to an “unsustainable” league economy.

    Yeah, I’m not over it.

  12. 950003cups - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    If Zajac wasn’t inked. He would have been signed fast for more. For that numbskull who pasted comments from “Top rated comments from those Canadians” who he’s never met.

    how about a guy who always trash talks the Devils for some reason? If Bobby Holik said “Zajac is the Towes of the East” would he be considered someone who knows a thing or 2 about hockey?

    Because he did in fact say that.

    • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      Bobby Holik another overpaid player, said something like that about a teammate? Well that sure does hold weight…..

      I’ll repeat for the clueless
      5.75m per year when he’s 32, 33, 34, 35 years old and if Zajac is STILL the Devil top 2 centers by that time, the Devils have been doing something wrong. If Zajac is still a top 6 forward in those years, the Devils have been doing something wrong. And it includes a NTC? Are you serious? Someone everyone forgot how John Ferguson fared with that in Toronto?

      There’s no convincing bubble-dwelling know-nothings from Jersey about anything.

      You fools will get your education halfway through this deal.
      5.75m over 8 years for a playmaking center coming off injury that literally would be 3rd line in Van, Det, Pit, Philly and maybe even the Rangers.

      And look how happy the Devil fans are, lmao
      Buffoons

      • 950003cups - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        Holik doesn’t like the Devils and has trashed talked players from Brodeur to Parise to Kovalchuk. Zajac was actually the ONLY player he had good things to say. This guy led the Devils through 3 series and a comeback in the 4th series. He has great vision, knows the system perfect, and performs in clutch situations. He’s not being over paid. Over paid is what Parise is getting.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        There’s a great conversation on the HFboards, you know, the place where hockey fans across the world chat about hockey. AKA the biggest hockey discussion in the world. Europeans, Russians, Canadians, Americans…and the debate is how much better is Zajac than Mikail Grabowski right now.
        And it’s the same context as here….everyone who isn’t a Devils fan is wondering why this is a 8 year deal with a full NTC rather than a 4 and wait a see.
        The vast majority calling it a bad deal while Devil fans are jumping for joy.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Oh Hope Lou also realizes the cap is going Down the next couple of seasons, again, what a mistake to commit a full NTC and the max 8 years to anyone who isn’t a proven star.

  13. bcjim - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Has Lou gone mad?

    Massive overpay.

    End of story.

    • thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      Lou is putting together a team, not a fantasy roster. Zajac is that valuable to what the Devils do. Zajac’s going to play on that contract until he’s 36. Right now about 1/3 of our roster is at least that old. Brodeur, Hedberg, Elias, Salvador, Zidlicky, Zubrus, maybe Darche if he makes the team. Sykora was there last year. Zajac’s game isn’t based on blazing speed. It’s not a bad deal for the Devils and what they need. It’s not what he’d be worth to the Islanders, but it’s what he’s worth to them.

  14. 950003cups - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    I think it’s a fair deal. Zajac deserves it. Its not a lot to pay for a top line center.

    • thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM

      Zajac is a low end first line center or a superb 2nd line center. It’s a fine deal.

  15. 950003cups - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    plus, one thing we learned about NTC’s is that you can persuade a player to waive it if you need to.

  16. woodstakes - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    I disagree with the idea this is a ‘massive overpay’, is it a bit over what he should maybe be getting, sure. But its not an outlandish amount of money, the only thing that is maybe a bit much is the term. Same rate over 5 yrs would’ve been a little better imo. But having watched Zajac from when he was in college at UND and as much as I could in NJ one thing has never changed is he works his a$$ off. I agree with many of you that his point totals will probably go with just the fact that Parise is gone. However, if all things remained the same I think he would be getting better anyway. He’s a good 2 way center and if he would have hit FA he would have gotten at the very least what he is getting minus the term of course. Potentially he would have gotten more.

    As for the idea that this board has all the ‘educated fans’ and that board doesn’t. There are idiots everywhere and trolls everywhere and well informed educated fans everywhere. Its up to you the individual to decide which of them each poster is. I have a feeling that misterchainbluelightning is swaying many of you in one direction or the other at this point.

  17. tcclark - Jan 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Massive overpay….. especially when numbers were supposed to come down. With the cap going down next year and guys like Claude Giroux and Evgeni Malkin poised to become free agents in two years, contracts like this make it even more difficult to sign players like Giroux and Malkin. If Zajac gets 5.75, Giroux and Malkin are looking at around 10 million per season. For teams that have Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Brooks Orpik, and Kris Letang with contracts expiring at the same time, it becomes extremely difficult to keep your core in place, when owners and gms are throwing around a lot of money for conceivably less deserving players. Devils fans will argue that a lot of what Zajac does for the team doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but a guy like Malkin can say, “a 20 goal scorer is making 6 million. I score 40, so I should be making 12.” Contracts like this don’t just mess up your team, they raise the price on everyone else. This is a market setting deal. The Devils just F#^*ed a lot of other teams.

    • thecheeman - Jan 16, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      Lou should apologize for screwing the Flyers and Penguins then I guess

      • tcclark - Jan 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        I’m not saying that, but you have to realize that a deal like this sets the bar unnecessarily high for other teams. At his best, Zajac put up similar numbers to Alex Burrows. Burrows is of course a better scorer, while Zajac sets up the play a little better. Regardless, they put up similar point totals (i understand Zajac is more than a scorer, but contracts are defined by quantifiable numbers). Burrows signed an extension before the lockout when salaries were supposed to be higher and yet his annual salary is 1.25 million less than Zajac.

        Zajac’s salary will make it tough for the Ducks to resign both Getzlaf and Perry, who he currently makes more money than. Zajac makes the same amount as Mike Richards and isn’t nearly as good on defense. He has a comparable contract to Martin St. louis, Patrick Sharp, Henrick Zetterberg, and the Sedin Twins. In fact, his cap hit is almost the same as Johnathan Quick’s who also just signed a contract extension. Speaking of goalies, Travis Zajac now makes more money than Ilya Brzgalov and his albatross of a contract.

        Zajac is good, but the amount of money the Devils just gave him will set asking prices for the rest of the league at a much higher rate. The Devils screwed everyone, not just Philly and Pittsburgh

  18. jimw81 - Jan 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    first overpaid player in the new cba era

  19. yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Overpaid, looks like u don’t watch hockey or ur just an idiot

  20. yitzchakinayev - Jan 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    One of the best signings so far in the new year and whoever thinks otherwise should go see a doctor

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