Just 24 games after suiting up in his 1,000th National Hockey League contest, Winnipeg-born centreman Travis Zajac has been traded away from the only NHL team he has ever known.
On Wednesday evening, the New Jersey Devils shipped the 35-year-old to Barry Trotz’s New York Islanders alongside Kyle Palmieri for a host of prospects and draft picks. Officially, the deal saw Zajac and Palmieri go to the Island, with AJ Greer, Mason Jobst, a 2021 first round draft pick and a conditional fourth round selection in 2022 coming back to New Jersey.
The conditional pick is a fourth round selection in 2022, that becomes a third rounder in either 2022 or 2023 should the Islanders make it to the Stanley Cup Final this summer. The Devils are retaining 50 percent of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salaries.
In 33 games this season, Zajac has produced seven goals and 18 points while in the final season of an eight-year contract signed back on January 16 of 2014. Selected 20th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the former St. James Canadian has 202 goals and 550 points to his name, while adding another 11 goals and 28 points in 57 playoff matches.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” Zajac said following the trade announcement. “At this point in my career and where I’m at, I want a chance to win. I just believe this is a team that has all the aspects of a winning hockey team and to be able to try and be a part of that and help them in any way possible; I think it was just, for me, it was the right time.”
He sits fourth in Devils history in games played (1,024) just behind Ken Daneyko, Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias. Zajac’s 15 seasons in Newark have seen him serve seven of which as an alternate captain.
“I was fortunate enough to have a great career in New Jersey and a lot of great memories, a lot of great people along the way, players, coaches, staff,” he added. “But I think it just came down to, at this point I want a chance to try and reach that ultimate goal.”
After practicing with the Islanders on Thursday morning, both Zajac and Palmieri will suit up for New York later Thursday evening in their new team’s 6:00 PM central battle with the Philadelphia Flyers.