Islanders Likely Bringing Travis Zajac Back For Depth
By Matt O'Leary
Lou Lamoriello is doing his typical Lou things where nobody knows for sure who he has or has not signed. Although according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, all signs point to Travis Zajac also staying with the New York Islanders.
Last year at the deadline, the Isles traded for both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. In 13 regular-season games with the Islanders, the 35-year-old Zajac had just two points and then another two in 14 playoff games.
During his time with the Devils last year, albeit with significantly more ice time, he was solid putting up seven goals and 18 points in 33 games with New Jersey. At this point in his career, he’s solid depth on a good team.
The assumption is that Zajac is on a one-year deal for likely the veteran minimum, which is fine in my book. Considering that Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston, and in the past Tom Kuhnhackl was the veteran depth Zajac and the newly acquired Richard Panik are significant upgrades.
I’d assume that Zajac starts the year as the 13th forward but he brings a lot of versatility to the Islanders squad. He can play down the middle or on either wing as a right-handed shot and has the veteran experience that both Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz love so much.
The only way this could be looked at as “bad” is if he gets put in the lineup instead of Oliver Wahlstrom, which did become a thing after Wahlstrom went down with an injury in the playoffs.
I don’t anticipate that to be the case though, as both Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson as well are both due bigger roles in the upcoming 2021-2022 season.
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Zajac can play on the Penalty Kill, and is an excellent faceoff guy (a career 53.8% on draws). This isn’t a sexy signing but for the league minimum, you won’t see me complaining about it.