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Travis Zajac Signs With New Jersey Devils Then Retires from NHL

Travis Zajac announced his retirement on Friday morning, putting an end to a career that lasted over 1000 games.

Longtime NHLer Travis Zajac signed a one-day deal on Monday morning, in order to retire as a New Jersey Devil. Expected to potentially sign with the New York Islanders, Zajac is instead leaving professional hockey as a player, but will take on a different role with the team.

Related: Islanders Sign Zdeno Chara to One-Year Deal

Zajac, 36, became a part of the Devils organization when he was drafted by them in the first-round (20 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. While in his final years in Jersey he was known as more of a shutdown centerman, he had several solid offensive seasons, none better than 2009-2010 where he put up career highs with 25 goals and 67 points.

“I was drafted in 2004 and played my first game in 2006,” Zajac said in a statement. “As I stand here nearing the end of 2021, I can only be grateful to sign one last time, and retire as a New Jersey Devil.

“As a kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Winnipeg, I dreamt about playing in the NHL. Growing up the oldest of four boys, it was the perfect hockey environment. Thanks to my parents unwavering support in our lives, that dream became a reality. Then, I got to live that childhood goal for 15 years with the Devils.”

At the 2020-21 trade deadline, Zajac was traded for the first time in his career, alongside his teammate Kyle Palmieri, to the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, his quest to win a Stanley Cup fell short as he and the Isles were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It is too bad Zajac was unable to find work for the 2021-22 season, given that he proved last year he could still play. Though he struggled when traded to the Islanders with just two points in 13 regular season games as well as two points in 14 playoff contests, he produced at a solid clip with the Devils beforehand with seven goals and 18 points in 33 games.

Travis Zajac Devils NHL
Travis Zajac Devils NHL

Zajac Had a Great NHL Career

Zajac finishes his career with an extremely impressive 1037 games played, and during that time was able to accumulate 203 goals and 552 points. He was quite underrated throughout his career given that, aside from very early on, he played on some very weak Devils rosters, proven by the fact that they missed the playoffs in seven of his last eight years.

Despite his retirement, Zajac won’t be going anywhere, as the Devils announced that he will remain with the organization in an on/off-ice player development and consulting role, while also working to grow the club’s youth hockey initiatives.

Next: Tyler Ennis Signs a PTO with the Ottawa Senators

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