Season Grade: Travis Zajac

One of the longest tenured Devils on the team, Zajac had a significantly better season than the 2014-15 season.  He was 8 points away from doubling his point totals from last season, and did end up doubling his assists totals.  I doubt Zajac will hit 60 points again in his career, but seeing him produce more is better than nothing.  Many Devils fans give Zajac a lot of grief for his play the last few years, but he’s been a consistent shutdown center, playing against the opposing team’s best players every game.  Let’s look at Zajac’s 2015-16 season more in-depth below.

The Numbers

5v5 Numbers

5v5 TOI 5v5 Goals 5v5 Assists 5v5 Points 5v5 G60 5v5 A60 5v5 P60 5v5 Pen D 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 SH%  5v5 ZSO% Rel
978.6 5 15 20 0.31 0.92 1.23 2 44.90% -1.47% 7.71% -7.00%

5v4 Numbers

5v4 TOI 5v4 Goals 5v4 Assists 5v4 Points 5v4 G60 5v4 A60 5v4 P60 5v4 Pen D 5v4 CF% 5v4 CF% Rel 5v4 SH% 5v4 ZSO% Rel
177.98 5 9 14 1.69 3.03 4.72 2 88.77% 0.06% 17.86% 0.90%

4v5 Numbers

4v5 TOI 4v5 Goals 4v5 Assists 4v5 Points 4v5 G60 4v5 A60 4v5 P60 4v5 Pen D 4v5 CF% 4v5 CF% Rel 4v5 SH% 4v5 ZSO% Rel
205.76 2 1 3 0.58 0.29 0.87 5 10.09% -2.22% 20% -14%

All Situations Numbers

All TOI All Goals All Assists All Points All G60 All A60 All P60 All Pen D All CF% All CF% Rel All SH% All ZSO% Rel
1458.59 14 28 42 0.57 1.14 1.72 18 45.81% 0.03% 11.30% -7.70%

As I’ve stated, it was a much better offensive season for Zajac.  He put up 3 more goals, 14 more assists, and 17 more points this season than last.  John Hynes rewarded Zajac for his good play this season.  He saw his even strength, power play, and penalty kill TOI go up this season.  Even though the points haven’t been eye-popping, Zajac has been the Devils 1st line center for the last few years.  His teammates have been better possession players when playing with him, and the team is better with him on the ice.  

 While his offensive numbers did go up, Zajac had a 27 game goalless streak, and that’s never good.  During that streak, Zajac put up 9 assists.  That goalless streak was easily Zajac’s worst drought of the season, but he did have a few smaller ones.  His best month was March, where he put up 11 points in 15 games.  If Zajac was more consistent, he might have cracked 50 points this year.  He has the chance to put up 50 points next year, as they team should be (a big should) better next year.  There’s also a chance his point totals go down, especially his goal totals.  Zajac’s shooting percentage was the highest of his career.  He could balance this out if he shoots more next year.  His 111 shots were the lowest of his career besides the lockout year and 2011-12 year, where he only played 15 games.

Season Grade: B

Zajac is expected to shutdown the opposition’s best players, as well as produce.  This past season, he did the shutdown part well.  He also produced much better this season.  Unfortunately for Travis, people expect more because of his contract.  Many fans give Zajac grief, and I’ve been very critical of him in the past, but give credit where credit is due.  Zajac improved after a disappointing season, and was a player Hynes could trust in any situation.  His inconsistencies can’t be ignored, though.  His contract, even though I’m not as critical as I was, or as others are, can’t be ignored either.  I would’ve liked to see a little better point production from someone who made $6,500,000 last season.  All that being said, his totals were better, and it was nice to see him have a nice bounce back year, and it’s why Travis gets a B for the season.  

(Numbers and statistics via Corsica.hockey, war-on-ice, and Hockey Reference)

(Photo courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images)

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