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New Jersey Devils 2019-20 player profile: Travis Zajac

August 8, 2019, 10:56 AM ET [20 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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With next to nothing happening in the hockey world now, I've decided to take the plunge and write daily profiles for members of the New Jersey Devils.

I'll be commenting on the year each player had as well as their projected role and expectations moving forward.

I kicked things off with Damon Severson and followed it up with his usual partner in crime, Andy Greene.

Today we're going with Travis Zajac.

Counting stats: 80 games played, 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists), 19:16 average time on ice

5v5 underlyings: 1.70 points/60, +.69 CF% Rel, +1.21 GF% Rel, -3.35 xGF% Rel, 97.5 PDO

2018-19 review: There were no shortage of negatives and disappointments on last year's Devils team. Zajac's play was not among them. The now 34-year-old turned back the clock a bit putting forth his best offensive season in years. He mustered up 46 points which, quite honestly, is a real achievement considering the injuries and revolving door of mediocre linemates he had to work with. What's more impressive is 30 of those points came at 5v5. That marked Zajac's highest output at 5v5 since 2013-14 and the last time he *bested* 30 points was way back in 2009-10. Zajac accomplished that feat while continuing to play tough minutes on a nightly basis. Only 21 centers logged more ice time against elite competition, per PuckIQ.com. Though faceoffs are overrated, they do provide *some* value and Zajac won a career-high 58.16% of the draws he took.

Fun fact(s): Zajac scored more 5v5 goals than Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Johansen, and Mikko Rantanen. He is, in fact, No. 19 on the ice but No. 1 in our hearts.

2019-20 outlook: Though the addition of Jack Hughes will take some of the offensive responsibility off Zajac, I think the latter will be used in a fairly similar role this season. He's still the team's best bet against high-end offensive players, which means he's going to get his fair share of ice time. As an above average 3C used a fair bit against top-6 comp, Nazem Kadri still averaged more than 13 5v5 minutes, and more than 16 total minutes, per game last season. I think Zajac will be heading for something similar in New Jersey.

numbers via naturalstattrick.com, puckiq.com, and hockey-reference.com

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