Feb 27, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) skates with the puck in front of Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky (17) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Player Report Card: Travis Zajac


This is the first of many player report cards to come. Enjoy!

The first-line centerman for the New Jersey Devils, Travis Zajac, has yet again not put up first-line numbers. He is currently on-pace for 43 points (14g, 29a), his lowest production since 2010-11, not including the lockout and injury plagued 2011-12 season.

Zajac has played with some very good players in his career, including Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, and most recently Jaromir Jagr. ALthough he has been with these highly talented players, his best statistic year came in 2009-10 when he tallied 67-points alongside Parise’s 82-points and 61 from Langenbrunner.

Sure the talent playing alongside Zajac has drastically changed, but he is still having a sub-par year again. Here’s my strength’s and weaknesses along with a grade on Zajac’s 2013-14 season:

Strength’s -

Mar 22, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save on New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) during the third period at Prudential Center. The Rangers defeated the Devils 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports


Zajac is a very good defensive forward. He is a reliable penalty killer and his defensive play is top-notch.

He has the highest face-off percentage on the team with a 54.2% on the year. This is critical, especially during special teams play and in the defensive zone. Remember, he won that huge face-off that allowed Marek Zidlicky and Devils to defeat the Florida Panthers with 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime.

Zajac has been on an absolute tear since coming off the Olympic Break, notching four goals and six assists in 11 games.

Zajac’s offensive numbers are not the greatest, but his defensive ability makes him a top-six forward. He may not be first-line material, but he is a sold player that the Devils can rely on in certain situations.

Weaknesses -

Zajac lacks offensive consistency and finish. He gets an extreme amount of offensive chances due to his great positional awareness, but he still cannot finish.

Most recently, in his last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Zajac had two breakaways and failed on both of them. One of which he shot the puck over the net and off the glass. In his defense the puck did flip up on him, but this happens to often for him.

If Zajac had any sort of finishing skill, he could easily put up 25-goals a season, but he is only on-pace for 14.

Grade:

My co-editor and I have given grades to Zajac’s play in 2013-14.

Thomas Formoso: B-

David Garrison: B-

One of the main reasons his grade is so low for a 40 point season is because that is not good by Zajac’s standards. Normally, if you register 40+ points that’s worth at least a B. As the Alternate Captain and top-line Center, he needs to be much more productive and have consistent success throughout the season.

Zajac only had 18 of his 39 points through December with splits of 4, 6, and 8 points for each of the first 3 months respectively. In losses, Zajac has a -21 +/- rating. There is plenty of upside to Travis, especially in terms of faceoffs and defense, and doesn’t solely show his worth on the stat sheet. One key to next season will be if he can keep up the pace he has set since the Olympics.

What Grade Range Would You Give HIm?

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Tags: Devils New Jersey Devils NHL Travis Zajac Zajac

  • Gerry Keefe

    Time to face it David, this team need a major overhaul starting at the top. Lou is done. This team is a mess, and PDR’s coaching style just makes it worse (never saw a line he could mess with and refuses to practice the shootout). In 30 yrs watching this team, I’ve never been more discouraged. Yes, there are fixes. But that has to come from Lou, and what he did at the trade deadline, plus holding back news about Kovy and the 1st round pick probably for years on fans, shows that he is no longer the man for the job. This team scratches out wins when it can, while talent walks out the door every Summer. Its embarrassing. This is a team of third liners. Nothing else. Get rid of Lou, Marty and PDR. The slide downhill since the 2012 Cup run has been epic. And now, you trade what you can and start over. Sorry to say. But those are the facts. I read comments on articles everyday about what this team could do to stop the bleeding, and turn this franchise around, but none of it is being done. And with owners who only care about the arena, and not the team (see Philly 76′s too), I don’t have a lot of hope that any of it will get done under this management. GO DEVILS !!

    • David Garrison

      I agree, the hole is too deep to fill here. I don’t think the Devils will be a contender again for another 10-15 years. Personally, I am against tanking and rebuilding just because of extreme cases like the Sabres, Oilers, and Islanders. Also, with the Devils bad luck of picks not panning out along with our horrible player development, tanking will not do anything for this franchise.