Travis Zajac deserved better for his New Jersey Devils career, but at the end of the day, he retired as a Devils legend.
Drafted 20th overall in the 2004 NHL Draft, Travis Zajac quickly became the New Jersey Devils’ top centerman as a rookie in 2006. By his third season in the NHL, Zajac was already a 60-point player, establishing himself as one of the NHL’s premier two-way forwards. Zajac and the Devils had a bad year in the 2010-11 season, and after injury struck Zajac in the 2011-12 season, he was never quite the same offensively.
Zajac didn’t make his 2011-12 season debut until December 16, 2011, and got injured again on January 2, 2012, causing him to sit until his return on March 25. Injuries limited Zajac to just two goals, four assists, and only 15 regular season games, but Zajac got his legs back come playoff time.
Travis Zajac played all 24 playoff games in the New Jersey Devils’ quest for the Stanley Cup, and scored seven goals and seven assists. He also dominated the faceoff dot, winning just over 54 percent of his draws.
Zajac scored some important goals that postseason, like the Game Six overtime winner against the Florida Panthers to force a Game Seven. Zajac also netted the game-winner in Game Four against the New York Rangers and scored the Devils’ third goal in a 5-3 Game Five win over the Rangers.
Travis Zajac served as the New Jersey Devils’ top center until Nico Hischier came along, and got pushed further down the lineup upon the arrival of Jack Hughes.
On April 7, 2021, Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri were traded to the New York Islanders for AJ Greer, Mason Jobst, and two draft picks that became Chase Stillman and Daniil Orlov. Zajac played 13 regular season games and 14 playoff games for the Islanders, scoring one goal and one assist in both the regular season and postseason. Zajac received Lady Byng or Selke votes in 10 of his 15 NHL seasons.
Travis Zajac retired as a New Jersey Devil on September 20, 2021, after signing a one-day contract. As of January 2023, Zajac is the head coach of the New Jersey Colonials 12U Minor 2012 AAA hockey team.