That’s clear after Wednesday, when Zajac, who was drafted and developed by the Devils, just as Parise was, opted to resign prior to his final contractual season in New Jersey, for likely less money than he would have received on the free agent market.
Zajac agreed to an eight-year deal, worth $46 million, essentially keeping him in red and black for the rest of his career.
Without question, Zajac would not have been offered the type of money Parise was given from the Minnesota Wild. Parise took a 13-year deal worth $98 million from the Wild, but it could be argued that Zajac is a more valuable player to the Devils.
As New Jersey’s top centerman, the Devils struggled for the amount of time that Zajac missed with an injured Achilles last season. Zajac wins the most faceoffs for the Devils, which is something most teams are looking for during every offseason. It will be tough, but the Devils can replace Parise. They can find other players that work hard in the corners and create goal-scoring opportunities below the slot. But true faceoff winners come few and far between, and that was displayed last year when Zajac was injured.
More than anything, as some Devils fans will say, Zajac showed his commitment to New Jersey by signing the deal months before other teams would have a chance to talk to him, something Parise didn’t do in the slightest.
“It’s something I take pride in. I love wearing this logo on my chest,” Zajac said, according to the Bergen Record. “It’s a long time, but I think with this organization you’re always going to have a chance to win.”
Zajac, who had played with Parise in college at North Dakota before playing alongside him in New Jersey, told reporters that he was excited to tell his former linemate that he took his locker on Wednesday.
It looks like he’ll have something else to tell Parise now, too.