Travis Zajac
Travis Zajac
34-Year-Old CenterC
New Jersey Devils
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Zajac might be handed a top-six role by default if 21-year-old Pavel Zacha still isn't ready to step up as the second-line center, but the veteran pivot's declining offensive game isn't deserving of much attention in the fantasy realm. The last time Zajac reached 50 points was way back in 2009-10, and the 33-year-old pivot has been held below 30 points in half of the eight seasons since. At best, he'll come close to replicating the 45 points he put up in 2016-17. At worst, he continues to decline from last season's total of 26. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed to an eight-year deal by the Devils worth $46 million in January of 2013.
Ends season on high note
CNew Jersey Devils
April 7, 2019
Zajac potted the power-play overtime winner in Saturday's 4-3 victory over Florida. He finishes the season with 19 goals and 46 points in 80 games.
Zajac hasn't eclipsed 50 points since scoring a career-high 67 back in 2009-10, but he's finished in the 42-48 range four times in the past six seasons. He's still locked in for two more years at a $5.75 million AAV, so the Devils will hope that age doesn't start to take effect on the veteran pivot, who will be 34 years old by the time the puck drops on the 2019-20 campaign.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Zajac was miscast as a first-line center at times last season, but the 32-year-old veteran could see himself drop out of the top six forwards altogether if 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier and 2015 sixth overall selected Pavel Zacha leapfrog him. With no more than 48 points in any of the past seven seasons, Zajac also has a clear ceiling should he hold on to a top-six role. He has topped the 40-point mark with double-digit power-play points in four of the past seven seasons, but it’s not hard to find similar production with greater room for growth elsewhere around the league.
Zajac bounced back with 44 points last season after a dismal 2014-15, but still came up short of the 50-point mark for the sixth straight campaign. His game is unlikely to improve at age 31, but a lack of quality alternatives down the middle in New Jersey will likely keep the veteran center in a top-six role. There are higher-upside options to be found in the same range, but filling out your roster with a decent two-way center with some scoring punch on a middling team isn’t the end of the world.
Zajac has fallen off dramatically since posting back-to-back 60-plus point seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Still just 30 years old, Zajac has inexplicably regressed rather than improved during his supposed prime years, falling all the way down to 11 goals and 25 points in 76 games this past season. The center did strike twice shorthanded and scored four power-play goals, but his frequent bagels in the scoring column didn’t make him worth owning in anything but the deepest of leagues. It's hard to think he will sink any lower in 2015-16, but he can't exactly count on the forwards around him to elevate his game, either. A role as the Devils' second-line center likely awaits him again, though that top-six role won't mean much until he shows he can provide points on a more consistent basis.
Expecting Zajac to be a 50-plus point player may be a longshot despite the fact that he is the team’s No. 1 center. Much of what he does on the ice is not measured statistically, as he is a sound two-way center often matched up against the opposition’s top lines. His consecutive 20-plus goal and 60-plus point campaigns from earlier in his career are the outliers, as he has failed to crack 20 goals since 2010. He’s scored a modest 25 goals the last two seasons despite missing just two games in that span. Zajac will see first-line minutes with a hodge-podge of wingers, but he won’t produce like a No. 1 center offensively. Those in deep leagues with multiple center positions will want to seek him out late in drafts or on waivers, just be aware that he may challenge 20 goals in a good season.
Like most of New Jersey's forwards, Zajac struggled to produce consistently last season, putting up a scattered 20 points and a mere 82 shots on goal in 48 games. He's still penciled in as one of the Devils' top two centers but he has yet to duplicate his 67-point season from 2009-10. Zajac is a steady defensive player who needs to shoot the puck more, but he's still guaranteed to see time on the team's top scoring lines. Zajac could be a good buy-low candidate this fall, remember his name in the late rounds on draft day.
After suffering a torn Achilles tendon last summer, Zajac missed all but 15 games this past season, attempting a comeback around Christmas that was short-lived before he got back on the ice for the season’s final seven games. He was solid in the playoffs with 14 points in 24 games, but the Devils will be eager to have their steady pivot for a full season. Depending on whom Zajac skates alongside, he should challenge 50-55 points and 20 goals.
Zajac had a forgettable season, posting 44 points, his lowest output since the 2007-08 season. One can argue that the absence of Zach Parise the majority of the season affected Zajac's production, however, Zajac was a prime bounceback candidate prior to tearing his achilles tendon during off-season workouts in August. Surgery to repair the injury was successful and he’s slated for a return in early-to-mid November. Ironically, Zajac had played in over 400 consecutive games, but will now have to wait to redeem himself. Cracking 60 points might not be reachable with missing the first six weeks of the season, but on a per-game basis, Zajac has been roughly between .70 and .75 during his productive years. He’s a consistent player when healthy, save for last year, and it’s likely that last season’s campaign was the down year for the underrated pivot.
Zajac's development as a budding center continued last season as he posted career-best totals in goals (25) and points (67) to go with a plus-22 rating. His chemistry with Zach Parise is essential to his success and all signs point to him posting another career season. Look for similar goals totals as well as a strong plus-minus and a handful of power-play points.
The breakout year the Devils were expecting from their third-year pivot happened last season and he likely was a huge value for owners that snagged him in the late rounds or via free agency. Posting 62 points and a plus-32 rating, Zajac showed great chemistry for Parise and veteran Jamie Langenbrunner. Sixty points and 20 goals should be attainable for Zajac again as he’s slated to center the team’s top line. He’ll provide great numbers in the plus-minus department, as he’s a strong two-way player.
Zajac was a disappointment in his sophomore season posting just 34 (14-20) points after putting up 42 as a rookie. It's not like he didn't have the chances, as he saw significant time with scoring lines and the power play unit. He could be worth a look in the later rounds of deeper leagues, but expecting anything more than 40 points is too much.
More Fantasy News
Fuels offense in win
CNew Jersey Devils
April 1, 2019
Zajac scored a power-play goal and added an assist at even strength in Monday's 4-2 win over the Rangers.
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Tallies on man advantage
CNew Jersey Devils
March 13, 2019
Zajac scored a power-play goal on his only shot in Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Oilers.
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Buries shorthanded goal
CNew Jersey Devils
March 12, 2019
Zajac scored while penalty killing in a 9-4 loss to the Flames on Tuesday.
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Finds net in loss
CNew Jersey Devils
March 6, 2019
Zajac scored one goal on three shots over 21:30 of ice time in Tuesday's 1-2 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets.
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Two assists in win over Sabres
CNew Jersey Devils
February 18, 2019
Zajac finished Sunday's 4-1 win over Buffalo with a pair of assists.
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