Travis Zajac won’t be returning to the Islanders. It turns out, the longtime Devil won’t be returning as an NHL player at all.
Zajac, 36, signed a one-day deal with the Devils on Monday and announced his retirement as an active player. He will remain in the Devils’ organization in a player development and consulting role — both on and off the ice — and also will work to grow the organization’s youth hockey initiatives in New Jersey.
The Islanders acquired Zajac and Kyle Palmieri, who was re-signed to a four-year, $20 million extension this offseason, from the Devils on April 7. Zajac had one goal and one assist in 13 regular-season games for the Islanders and added one goal and one assist in 14 playoff games.
Otherwise, Zajac’s career was spent with the Devils, who selected him 20th overall in 2004. He had 203 goals and 349 assists in 1,037 NHL regular-season games.
Zajac had seven goals and seven assists in 24 playoff games in 2012 as the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Kings in six games.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept fans out of the Prudential Center for Zajac’s 1,000th career game, so the Devils will honor him on March 10, 2022, before facing Zajac’s hometown Winnipeg Jets.
"As a kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Winnipeg, I dreamt about playing in the NHL," Zajac said in a statement. "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."