Through 104 years of the NHL, only 350 players have reached the 1,000 game milestone. Of those 350, only 65 have played 1,000 NHL games with one franchise. Now, New Jersey Devils 15-year center, Travis Zajac is set to become the 351st player to reach the milestone. He will join an elite company such as Ken Daneyko, Patrik Elias, and Martin Brodeur to play 1,000 games with the Devils. Zajac will earn his coveted silver stick and secure his spot in the record books.
Before The NHL
Similar to many NHL player’s childhoods, Travis Zajac was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a hockey-obsessed family. His father, Tom Zajac, played at the University of Denver for three years. Zajac’s three younger brothers, Darcy, Kelly, and Nolan have also played hockey in the AHL, ECHL, and NCAA. Travis first became noticed while he was playing with the Salmon Arms Silverbacks of the BCHL. Zajac registered 164 points in 118 games and went on to play NCAA hockey at the University of North Dakota for two seasons.
In 2004, the Devils traded their 22nd overall pick and 88th overall pick to move up to 20th overall. With that selection, the Devils picked Travis Zajac. Before entering the world of professional hockey, Zajac would compete in two NCAA seasons. There he competed in two frozen fours against former Devils, Cory Schneider, and Andy Greene. Zajac ended his NCAA career with 80 points in 88 games. In 2005-2006, Zajac would play 2 games with the Devils’ AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats. In the AHL, Zajac recorded one point and played 2 games before joining the Devils full time.
1,000 National Hockey League Games
Playing one game in the NHL is a massive feat that a very small percentage of the population has accomplished. Playing 1,000 games is an enormous accomplishment that a few hundred have been able to reach. The NHL and their teams commemorate the occasion with a silver hockey stick that is engraved with 1,000 games and the game it was played on. Zajac will be receiving his very soon!
The road to 1,000 NHL games began in 2006 for Travis Zajac. He would be added to the Devils roster with notable team members such as Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, John Madden, and many more. Zajac notched 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points in his rookie year. In his next four seasons, he would play all 82 games for the Devils in the regular season. One of Zajac’s greatest skills is his face-off abilities. In every year of his career, besides his rookie season, Zajac was able to record a 50% or higher in face-off percentage.
Another notable asset about his play is his versatility. He has found himself on every line, every special teams unit, shootout lineups, and has always been able to perform well. In 1,000 games, Zajac has recorded 197 goals and 337 assists for 534 points. In six trips to the playoffs, he has scored 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points in 57 career playoff games.
A True Devil
Being with one NHL team for 1,000 games is one of the highest accomplishments and honors that a player can get. It shows that the team views the player as a key piece to the organization and is vital to their success. Travis Zajac has been with the Devils through huge games, tough losses, multiple playoff runs, and unsuccessful seasons.
Zajac’s name is a staple to the Devils organization. His anticipation allows his defensive play to be dominant and his consistent contributions on offense make him a very complete hockey player. Congratulations to Travis Zajac on 1,000 games in the NHL.