Zajac retires from NHL after signing one-day contract with Devils

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Travis Zajac retired from the NHL on Monday after signing a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Zajac will remain with the Devils in an on- and off-ice player development and consulting role, while also working to grow New Jersey’s youth hockey initiatives.

“I was drafted in 2004 and played my first [NHL] game in 2006,” Zajac said. “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.”

The 36-year-old forward, who was an unrestricted free agent, was selected by the Devils in the first round (No. 20) of the 2004 NHL Draft and played all but 13 of his 1,037 NHL games with New Jersey.

Zajac is fourth in Devils history in games played (1,024), behind Ken Daneyko (1,283), Martin Brodeur (1,259), and Patrik Elias (1,240). He’s third in points (550), tied for third in goals (202) and fifth in assists (348).

“During his 15-year NHL career, Travis Zajac’s consistent preparation, commitment and performance epitomized what it meant to be a New Jersey Devil,” Devils managing partner David Blitzer said. “Win or lose, Travis’ teammates, coaches and fans could always count on him to play the right way. I am thrilled that Travis, his wife Nicole and their children will continue to make New Jersey their home, and they will be a valued part of the Devils organization moving forward.”

Zajac scored 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 46 games last season, including two points (one goal, one assists) in 13 games after being traded to the New York Islanders on April 7. He scored two points (one goal, one assist) in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The Devils will honor Zajac for playing in his 1,000th NHL game on March 10 against his hometown Winnipeg Jets.

“As a kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Winnipeg, I dreamt about playing in the NHL,” Zajac said. “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.

“I want to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for giving me the opportunity to play in the best league in the world. To the past and present ownership, managing partners, managers, coaches, and trainers, your hard work has not gone unnoticed. Thank you.”

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