The New Jersey Devils announced today they signed center Travis Zajac to a long term contract.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello made the announcement today during the team’s scrimmage with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany Devils. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but its been reported it is an eight year, $46 million contract. It’s an annual $5.75 million cap hit and includes a full no-trade clause.
The eight-year deal is the longest allowable under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Zajac was entering the final season of a four-year, $15.5 million contract he signed as a restricted free agent in 2009. He was scheduled to make $4.48 million (prorated for the lockout) this season.
The Devils center will make $3.5 million in the first year of the contract. That number jumps to $5 million in the second season. From years three to six, he will make $6.5 million. His salary drops to $5.75 million for the final two years of the contract.
Lamoriello said both sides were working on an extension before the lockout began and completed it this week.
Zajac missed most of the regular season last year recovering from a torn Achillies tendon, an injury that occurred during offseason workouts. He played just 15 regular season games, recording two goals and four assists. He fully recovered by time the postseason rolled around, and became a key contributor for the Devils, netting 14 points (7g, 7a) in 24 playoff games.
He was drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2004. He has 91 goals and 164 assists in 423 regular season NHL games. Of the 19 players selected before him in the draft, only three (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Andrew Ladd) have more career points.
The Matchup – The Calgary Flames (8-11-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (6-13-2) at the Prudential Center. It is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.
The Last Flames Game – The New York Rangers defeated the Flames, 2-1, Monday night at MSG. In a game filled with hard hits and rough play, goals were tough to come by. The Flames gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to take the lead when Curtis Glencross went of for high-sticking in the second period. Dan Girardi made the Flames pay, scoring the game-winner on that powerplay chance at 12:14 of the period.
The Last Devils Game – The Devils dismantled the Washington Capitals, 5-0, Monday night at the Rock. Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Mattias Tedenby scored first period goals to put the Devils ahead, 3-0. They wouldn’t look back, tallying two more in the first ten minutes of the middle period to take a 5-0 lead. Johan Hedberg finished with 30 saves for his 15th career shutout.
The Last Flames – Devils Game – The Flames defeated the Devils, 5-3, in Calgary. Zach Parise opened the game’s scoring at 13:37 of the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. It would stay that way until the second period, when the Flames came out red hot. Daymond Langkow evened the score, 1-1, at 1:43 of the second period. Glencross gave the Flames a lead, tallying a shorthanded goal at 5:41 of the period. Eric Nystrom continued the scoring, increasing the lead to two with a goal at 16:04 of the period.
The Flames weren’t done scoring. Matt Stajan continued the goal streak, increasing the lead to 4-1 at 9:29 of the third period. David Moss scored 33 seconds later to push the lead to 5-1. But the Devils wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Parise scored again, tallying a powerplay goal at 16:08 to bring the Devils within three goals, shrinking the Flames lead, 5-2. Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Devils to within two, scoring at 17:26 to shorten the Flames lead, 5-3.
But it would be too little too late, as the Devils couldn’t complete the comeback and defeat their former coach, Brent Sutter. Martin Brodeur stopped 20 shots in the loss. Mikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves for the win.
For a full recap, including historical data of the matchup, check our season preview post.
Hello Old Friend – The Devils welcome back former coach Brent Sutter to the Rock. It’s the first time Sutter has visited the Prudential Center since leaving the organization at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Sutter, who wanted to leave the Devils to be closer to his family and the Red Deer Rebels, took the Flames coaching job shortly after leaving the Devils. The contract dripped of conspiracy, but Sutter maintains that he wasn’t looking for a coaching opportunity.
“Strictly put, I resigned here because of all the right reasons and if I wasn’t going to be coaching in Calgary, which was an opportunity because Lou gave them permission to talk to me, I wouldn’t have coached last year,” Sutter said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I went home for the right reasons. I went home because it was the right thing to do because there are things bigger than the team. I made that decision based on that.”
Even if he did it for the right reasons, he’ll probably be booed tonight.
For the rest of the recap, read after the jump!
The Devils came into this short two-game homestand needing points. New Jersey, losers of their last three games, seemed to battle frustration and unlucky bounces during their terrible start. It wouldn’t get any easier tonight, as the Washington Capitals visited the Prudential Center. It seemed like yet another letdown in a season full of them. But by the end of the first period, the Devils showed they may have finally turned a corner. In a night where they honored Pat Burns, New Jersey destroyed the Capitals, 5-0, earning their second home win of the season.
Jason Arnott Powers The Offense
Coming into tonight’s game, Arnott led the team in goals. Not Ilya Kovalchuk , but Arnott. He’s been the best offensive option, and he displayed those skills tonight, helping put the Capitals away.
Arnott extended the Devils lead to 2-0 at 16:15 of the period. The center started the play at the blue line, grabbing a loose puck at the blue line. He skated down the side boards, drawing two defenders to him. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby came out of the net to challenge Arnott, but the center simply went behind the net and deposited the puck into the empty net on a wraparound attempt for his seventh goal of the season.
Arnott scored his second of the night in the second period, extending the Devils lead to 4-0. Andy Greene threw the puck toward the net, and Patrik Elias deflected the puck on net. Holtby made the initial save, but left the rebound in the low slot. Arnott swept the puck between a defender’s legs and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.
Mattias Tedenby – Penalty Shot Magic
Ever since his callup, Tedenby provided excitement and, importantly, offensive firepower. The rookie once again showed his scoring prowess, converting on the first penalty shot at The Rock since 2009.
Tedenby drew the penalty shot after beating Jon Erskine for a short breakaway. The Caps defender pulled Tedenby down, and the referee signaled for the penalty shot immediately. Tedenby moved in slowly on Holtby, who came out to challenge the right-winger. As Holtby retreated toward his net, Tedenby pulled the puck to the backhand and put the shot on net. The puck deflected off of Holtby’s left arm and into the net for his third goal of the season.
Devils coach John MacLean was pleased with the rookie’s performance tonight.
“He’s a young guy,” MacLean told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “He has great confidence with the puck. You’ve got to let his creativity come and he skates so well that he makes something happen each time he’s out there and you just have to hedge that with being responsible and he was tonight.”
The Moose Is On The Loose
Johan Hedberg wasn’t happy about being skipped over for Saturday’s start against St. Louis. He made that fact known during the pre-game skate, and came into tonight’s game with a chip on his shoulder. After his performance against the Capitals, we might get used to seeing Mike McKenna glued to the end of the bench.
The Devils needed Hedberg to be strong tonight, and the goalie stood up to the challenge. Hedberg stopped 30 shots tonight, blanking the Capitals for his 15th career shutout. They weren’t all cupcake saves either. Hedberg was in a zone, and it seemed like nothing could stop him.
His most impressive save came during the second period, with the Devils already ahead, 5-0. Alexander Semin carried the puck into the Devils zone, and made a beeline toward the slot. The left-winger fired a quick wrist shot on net, and Hedberg quickly flashed the glove and made the save.
“Heddy’s a veteran,” MacLean said to Gulitti. “He wasn’t happy that he wasn’t playing, but understood and he bounced back tremendously, which we expected him to do. It’s good for him because he works extremely hard.”
For the rest of the recap, continue reading after the jump!