New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac Injury A Fatal Blow

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 01: Travis Zajac /

New Jersey Devils top center Travis Zajac is out four to six months with a torn pectoral muscle. This will be an awful blow for a team that had fringe playoff chances.

New Jersey Devils fans thought any major news coming this August would be good news. Maybe a veteran player decided to come play on a professional tryout. Possibly general manager Ray Shero pulling a major trade to upgrade the defense. Instead, fans were given the news that Travis Zajac would be out of the lineup for at least the first three months of the season.

Zajac’s torn pectoral muscle will keep him out for four to six months. This hurts the Devils in a variety of facets.

For one, and possibly most important, this breaks up the Devils most successful line. Zajac, Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri were the only three players to play well consistently on the entire team last season. Zajac helped set up Hall better than anyone, and Palmieri continued to prove he was a steal.

One of the reasons Zajac was such a crucial part of that line was his dominance in the faceoff circle. He ranked in the top 20 in the league in faceoff percentage with 54.7%. The next on the list (outside of Vern Fiddler’s short time on the team) was Adam Henrique, who ranked 73rd in the league. Losing those crucial chances when the team doesn’t get enough of them as it is can be a killer.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

Zajac was also the team’s best penalty killing forward. He spent the most time on the PK unit, and helped a bad defense.

The biggest problem of all is Zajac couldn’t be replaced. The Devils had great depth at center. It’s had because without Zajac, that throws everyone up a notch and forces young players into roles they could have been eased into.

Now, Michael McLeod needs to play on the NHL roster instead of getting his nine game tryout. Pavel Zacha and Adam Henrique are forced to play center when one should try to moving to wing.

This injury may have more ripple effects than any other on the roster. Obviously, losing Cory Schneider would hurt, but Keith Kinkaid is more than capable of carrying the load. Losing Damon Severson puts a major hole on the team, but the defense is bad either way. Zajac was the major cog. Now, he’s gone. And the Devils have to find a way to move on until at least December.