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Is Travis Zajac Playing His Way Into An Islanders Contract Extension?

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Travis Zajac #14 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Travis Zajac #14 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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At the trade deadline, the New York Islanders acquired not one but two forwards from the New Jersey Devils. Yesterday, we talked about Kyle Palmieri and if he was playing well enough to garner an extension.

Now, let’s take a look at Travis Zajac. During the regular season, he put up just two points in 13 games played (1 goal, 1 assist) for the Islanders. His playing time was cut short due to the Isles depth at the forward group and he’s gotten into just three playoff games.

Has he done enough to be extended? The seemingly easy response is no, and I tend to agree with that but there is a way he can get a new contract with New York.

As of now, the Islanders center depth is Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, JG Pageau, and Casey Cizikas. It’s a deep unit and they each play their role really well.

The issue? Casey Cizikas is a pending free agent. He’s coming off a contract that paid him $3.35 million a year against the cap. While I don’t think he will cash in again with a cap hit that high, his price point may still be out of the reach of the Islanders.

If that’s the case, could they be in the market for a new fourth line center? Sure, Leo Komarov, and Otto Koivula who are already on the roster could likely do that but would anyone put it past Lou to trust a veteran, a veteran who he drafted back in 2004.

If Zajac would sign for the vet minimum, which at his age (36) seems pretty likely then maybe they do that. He’s a career 53.8% in the faceoff dot and won nearly 60% of his faceoffs on the island.

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Still, if I had to place a bet on it I think he’s likely gone but I have a weird feeling that Zajac staying is more likely than Palmieri staying just due to price point and positional need.

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