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 New Jersey Devils (0-0-1) face off against the Washington Capitals (0-1-0). This is the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.
The Last Capitals Game: The Atlanta Thrashers defeated the Capitals, 4-2, last night in Atlanta. Ondrej Pavelec, the Thrashers starting goalie, collapsed only 2:25 into the first period, immediately silencing an excited crowd. Pavelec was taken off on a stretcher, and play resumed. Atlanta took the lead, 2-1, at 15:43 of the second period when newcomer Andrew Ladd beat goalie Michal Neuvirth. Evander Kane scored the eventual game-winner on a penalty shot.
The Last Devils Game: The Dallas Stars defeated the Devils, 4-3, in overtime last night. The Devils ZIP Line got the Devils started early, with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise giving New Jersey an early 2-0 lead. But the Stars would respond, tying the game on a Loui Eriksson goal at 3:02 of the second period. Jason Arnott put the Devils ahead in the third period, but the Stars once again tied the game. Eriksson scored the game-winner at 1:36 of the overtime period for the win.
Last Season’s Matchup: For a full recap of last season’s matchup, check this post here. The Devils won three of four meetings last season. The Capitals won the most recent meeting, 4-1, on December 26. Alexander Ovechkin recorded a goal and two assists in that game.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils and Caps are both coming into tonight’s game disappointed with their season openers. The Devils had flashes of great play last night, but they cut their nose to spite their face. The team applied pressure offensively, but they didn’t play good defense. The defenders made several mistakes, giving the Stars great chances.
Both of these teams expect to be near the top of their divisions and the conference. It’s only the second game of the season, but both teams will want to bring their “A” game tonight. Look for the Devils to address some of the defensive lapses from last night’s game. New Jersey’s defenders played aggressively and took chances last night, chances that didn’t pay off. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Coach John MacLean won’t hold back, but expect the defense to play better tonight.
But the offense will have to get it done as well. The ZIP Line looked good, accounting for two of the three goals last night. But that was against a subpar Stars defense. The Caps are deeper, and the Devils offense will need to work to generate scoring chances. It was a great start last night, but we’ll see how they can respond to a tough road test on back-to-back games.
There was no morning skate today, so these line combinations are based off of last night’s game.
Forwards: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Ilya Kovalchuk; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner; Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson; Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Rod Pelley
Defenseman: Henrik Tallinder – Andy Greene; Alexander Urbom – Anton Volchenkov; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Mark Fraser
Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg
Game time is 7 p.m., and you can catch the action on MSG Plus 2 or 660 WFAN.
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. We’ve already completed several previews, all of which can be found under the “Season Preview” tab. In today’s second preview, we stay in the Eastern Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Thrashers vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 40 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils have dominated the Thrashers, with their record at 23-9-3-5. The Devils average 3.25 goals against Atlanta and allow 2.23 goals against. In four meetings last season, the Devils went 3-1-0 against the Thrashers.
The Thrashers won the first game of the season series, 4-2, October 16 at the Prudential Center. Travis Zajac opened the scoring, giving the Devils a lead, 1-0, at 8:07 of the second period. Rich Peverley tied the game, 1-1, netting a powerplay goal at 14:57 of the second. Atlanta would take the lead in the third period, with Evander Kane putting the Thrashers ahead, 2-1, at 1:36 of the third. Peverley would score another powerplay goal, extending the lead, 4-2, at 5:55 of the period. Zach Parise cut the lead to one, netting an even-strength goal at 13:10 to cut the lead to 3-2. Chris Thorburn would score the game’s last goal, tallying a shorthanded goal to double the lead and put the Thrashers ahead, 4-2.
The Devils won the second game, 5-4, on December 19 in Atlanta. Ron Hainsey scored the game’s first goal, giving the Thrashers alead, 1-0, at 7:15 of the first period. Rob Niedermayer tied the game at one with an even-strength tally at 12:55 of the period. Atlanta jumped ahead again, with Nik Antropov giving Atlanta the lead, 2-1, at 14:30 of the first. Pavel Kubina extended the lead, putting Atlanta ahead, 3-1, with an even-strength gal at 17:14 of the first period. Those three first period goals chased Martin Brodeur, but the Devils wouldn’t quit with their star goalie on the bench.
Brian Rolston cut the Thrashers’ lead to 3-2 with an even-strength goal at 2:46 of the second period. The Devils tied it up at 6:12, with Dean McAmmond netting a powerplay goal to knot the game up at 3-3. Rod Pelley gave the Devils their first lead at 10:04 of the second, putting New Jersey ahead, 4-3. McAmmond stretched the lead to 5-3 with his second goal of the game at 11:45 of the third period. Vyacheslav Kozlov tallied on the powerplay to bring the score to within one, 5-4, but the Devils held on for the victory.
Continue reading for the rest of the preview!
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. We’ve already completed several previews, all of which can be found under the “Season Preview” tab. In today’s preview, we go to the Western Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Blackhawks vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 99 all-time regular season meetings against the Blackhawks, the Devils are 35-41-21-2. New Jersey averages 2.91 goals against Chicago, but allows the Blackhawks to score 3.34 goals per meeting. Last season, the teams met twice, with the Blackhawks winning both meetings.
The Blackhawks defeated the Devils, 5-1, on December 31 in Chicago. Troy Brouwer scored the game’s first goal at 14:44 of the first period, converting on a powerplay chance. Ben Eager doubled the lead, scoring at 16:29 to increase the lead.
The Blackhawks extended the lead to three at 2:12 of the second period, with Andrew Ladd picking up the tally.
Chicago’s offense continued to roll in the third period. Johnathan Toews scored at 4:41 to push the lead to 4-0, and ex-Devil John Madden made it a rout, scoring the Blackhawk’s fifth goal at 15:11 of the period. Jamie Langenbrunner spoiled the shutout, scoring at 18:27 to give the put the Devils on the board.
The Blackhawks took the second meeting, 2-1, in a shootout at the Prudential Center. Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils an early first period lead, scoring his then-40th goal of the season at 5:49 of the first period. The score stood at 1-0 until the third period, when Kris Versteeg scored with 26 seconds left in the game. Toews scored the only goal in the shootout, giving Chicago a season sweep of the Devils.
Devils vs. Blackhawks – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Blackhawks will face off on November 3 in Chicago. Last season, Chicago went for broke and stacked their team, looking to win the Stanley Cup. And they did just that, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for their fourth Stanley Cup championship, and first since the 1960-61 season.
But Chicago has undergone significant changes since hoisting the Cup. Gone is Cup-winning goalie Anti Niemi, who recently signed with the San Jose Sharks. Chicago’s list of traded players is long, with names such as Versteeg, Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, to name a few. The Blackhawks remained quiet on the free agent front, bringing in Marty Turco to challenge Cristobal Huet for a chance to start between the pipes.
Chicago will still be a tough team, even with their offseason moves. Their entire lineup features skill players, from Toews and Patrick Kane up front to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blue line. Expect this matchup to be a hard fought contest, especially since it comes at the end of Western Conference road trip for the Devils.
Other Important Stats
The Devils won’t mind seeing Huet manning the Chicago net. In nine career starts against New Jersey, Huet is 3-6-0-0 with a 2.60 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage…In 34 career regular season games against Chicago, Langenbrunner has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) but is -8…Both Kane and Zach Parise were Olympic heros last season, but Parise holds the upper hand in head-to-head matchups. Kane has recorded two points (zero goals, two assists) in four career regular season meetings against New Jersey. Parise has three points (one goal, two assists) in six career games against the Blackhawks.