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Travis Zajac


thefiestygoat

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There were some references in the trade deadline thread about Zajac being similar to Richards which I strongly disagree with. Rather than hijack that thread  I figured I'd start a new topic. I personally feel that while Zajac is a bit underwhelming from a points perspective, he does a lot of other things well defensively and away from the puck that go unappreciated. To compare him to Richards this season to show how they aren't the same player:

 

Zajac plays with better teammates but against tougher competition with less favorable zone starts and their stats aren't identical.

TOI Stats
Zajac: 19:55 TOI/GP, 2:21 PP TOI/GP, 2:01 SH TOI/GP
Richards: 13:41 TOI/GP, 1:23 PP TOI/GP, 0:49 SH TOI/GP

Relative Stats
Zajac: 2.0 Scoring Chance For%, 4.2 Corsi%, 6.4 Fenwick%
Richards: -3.9 Scoring Chance For%, -2.9 Corsi%, -5.1 Fenwick%

Shot Based Stats
Zajac: 50.2 Shots For%, 5.8 Relative Shots For%
Richards: 48.6 Shots For%, -6.5 Relative Shots For%

Goal Based Stats
Zajac: 46.2 Goals For%, -6.1 Relative Goals For%
Richards: 43.9 Goals For%, -12.6 Relative Goals For%

Faceoffs and Zone Starts
Zajac: 55.5 FO%, 48.3 ZS%
Richards: 48.0 FO%, 52.9 ZS%

 

If you want to see how different their usage is in than check out the chart from War-On-Ice.

 

Using Own the Puck's Horizontal Evaluative Ranking Optics further illustrates all of this:

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The point is neither of these guys are going to light it up offensively but Zajac does a lot well defensively and away from the puck to help out his team, unlike Richards who was a drain on his team. I know I'm ranting a bit but I really think Zajac gets a lot of criticism that he doesn't deserve. The problem is this team is so depleted of talent up front, that Zajac is asked/expected to do more from a points perspective than what should really be expected from him. I'm sure their are teams out there that would love to have a guy like Zajac on their roster.

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The lack of offense from Zajac is a problem.  Yeah, he's definitely not Richards.  Yeah, he does do some important things...he's far from worthless for sure.  But he's definitely not living up to the value of his contract.  It could be just a case of him needing players who complement him, but it's rough having a $5.75 mil per year player signed for eternity who's simply not helping much offensively.   

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i like your argument, but Zajac IS underwhelming.

 

great, he's playing slightly better on offense than someone who just cleared waivers.  i uneerstand his defensive value, but his offense is a problem. 

 

if our team was full of scorers, i would agree that Zajac could be doing his part by just feeding the scorers.  but our team is AWFUL offensively, and if we would look to Zajac to step up, he clearly can't.

 

I do respect the defense and the hustle part of his game.  but like CR said, he's not living up to the almost $6 mill/year

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the problem is he's basically in our top 3 or 4 as far as forwards go, sand his lack of scoring is an issue. If he were a 3rd line guy (and honestly, I don't even think we have 4 distinct lines right now), maybe it's less of an issue. But $5.75 million from the Devils is like $8 million from another team, he is expected to be more.

Edited by mfitz804
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I think people are making too much about his $5.75M cap hit. Yeah, ideally you wouldn't sign a guy through his age 35 season but that's the price you have to pay if you want to retain a quality player.

The cap figures to grow steadily every year so that cap hit will only end up becoming a smaller percentage on the books. I don't think it's going to prevent the Devils from doing any deals that they'd want to get done. I also don't buy the argument that his contract makes him untradeable.

 

I guess my point is, Zajac seems to get a lot of flack from Devils fans but he is far from being a problem on this team. If he wasn't here, it would be noticeable and not in a good way.

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zaja doesnt produce as much as we all wish he would but he isnt being paid all that much.. the lack of talent around him really isnt helping him either he needs a little more skill on the ice with him to get him to produce what he is really capable of.. he brings his game to the table with his defensive abilities.

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Zajac's problem this season, is the same problem he has always had: he is expected to play like a first-line center, when his proper role is a second or even third line center. If he could play in a John Madden type role for us, he would be much closer to being used to his comparative advantage. He can't be expected to score, we need him to kill penalties and provide shutdown D on the other teams' top forwards.

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Zajac's problem this season, is the same problem he has always had: he is expected to play like a first-line center, when his proper role is a second or even third line center. If he could play in a John Madden type role for us, he would be much closer to being used to his comparative advantage. He can't be expected to score, we need him to kill penalties and provide shutdown D on the other teams' top forwards.

 

Well said.

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I think people are making too much about his $5.75M cap hit. Yeah, ideally you wouldn't sign a guy through his age 35 season but that's the price you have to pay if you want to retain a quality player.

The cap figures to grow steadily every year so that cap hit will only end up becoming a smaller percentage on the books. I don't think it's going to prevent the Devils from doing any deals that they'd want to get done. I also don't buy the argument that his contract makes him untradeable.

 

I guess my point is, Zajac seems to get a lot of flack from Devils fans but he is far from being a problem on this team. If he wasn't here, it would be noticeable and not in a good way.

 

Contract doesn't make him completely untradeable, but you are probably stuck taking an equally questionable one back. 

 

Sadly, we're probably going to have to start adjusting our expectations for him...that offensively, he's not a 60+ point player, but a 40-50 point guy.  I know he does many other things, that isn't lost on me, and I also know that the Devils should be OK from a cap standpoint because they don't have that many big contracts on the books, but when you're hoping for 20-25 goals and 40-45 assists and that he can be a guy who provide more offense than he does, at a $5.75 million-per-year pricetag...it's just kind of a bummer.  But I hold out hope that he finds chemistry with someone or a couple of someones in the next couple of years.   

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Zajac is great at what he does. He shuts down the opposing team's first line. But wasn't that historically what our 3rd line was used for? I think they're just pairing him with the wrong people. He should be playing with other shut down people. Rutuu-Zajac-Bernier or Zubrus should be our shutdown line. Him being overpaid is in the past now. We should just try to use him to his strengths.

 

He's our modern day Jon Madden and Bobby Holik.

Edited by Jerzey Devil
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Zajac is great at what he does. He shuts down the opposing team's first line. But wasn't that historically what our 3rd line was used for? I think they're just pairing him with the wrong people. He should be playing with other shut down people. Rutuu-Zajac-Bernier or Zubrus should be our shutdown line. Him being overpaid is in the past now. We should just try to use him to his strengths.

 

He's our modern day Jon Madden and Bobby Holik.

So he's a 3rd line center getting 1st or 2nd line $$$

 

thats a problem,

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If Zajac was paired with quality wingers, he'd put up 40-50 points each season and that's fine for what he is. He's getting paid 2nd line center money and other than this year, he's produced like one. I'm not worried too about him.

 

If a lot of players were paired with quality wingers, they would put up 40-50 points a season.

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If a lot of players were paired with quality wingers, they would put up 40-50 points a season.

Not everybody can produce that well, even when given quality linemates. You still have to be very talented. I mean, just take Josefson for example, he's been given opportunities with some talented linemates, yet never could produce more than a few points here and there. Zajac is a very good, possibly elite defensive center that can produce 40+ points with the right linemates. Edited by ATLL765
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Not everybody can produce that well, even when given quality linemates. You still have to be very talented. I mean, just take Josefson for example, he's been given opportunities with some talented linemates, yet never could produce more than a few points here and there. Zajac is a very good, possibly elite defensive center that can produce 40+ points with the right linemates.

Josefson is not good. He's looked good on occasion but other than a couple shootout goals, I have no idea what he has ever done.

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Josefson is not good. He's looked good on occasion but other than a couple shootout goals, I have no idea what he has ever done.

 

Josefson is at this point an above-average 4th liner.  I think given the right line-mates he could score 10 goals a season.  He is also great in his own end and does make some nice passes.  As long as he is not given huge minutes I am fine with him.

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Josefson is at this point an above-average 4th liner.  I think given the right line-mates he could score 10 goals a season.  He is also great in his own end and does make some nice passes.  As long as he is not given huge minutes I am fine with him.

 

I'm on the contrary. I'd like to see what he does with an enhanced role and more minutes. Hell, we did it for Bernier and Tootoo. In Bernier's case, it paid/paying dividends. We have nothing to lose at this point.

 

My biggest problem with Josefson has always been his size, I never felt like he belonged out there and was always forced off the puck, no matter what skill he showed. This year, it seems like he's bulked up and he's been creating some great chances and creating good space for himself. I'd like to see what happens if they put him back with Jagr again. Jagr was a fan of his.

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The lack of offense from Zajac is a problem. Yeah, he's definitely not Richards. Yeah, he does do some important things...he's far from worthless for sure. But he's definitely not living up to the value of his contract. It could be just a case of him needing players who complement him, but it's rough having a $5.75 mil per year player signed for eternity who's simply not helping much offensively.

It's not even so much the contract that's an issue right now as it is his icetime. 20 minutes a night for a defensive defenseman? Fine. 20 minutes a night with a center that keeps the puck out of both nets? A little more problematic. Then you need everyone else to compensate for his zeroes offensively.

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Not everybody can produce that well, even when given quality linemates. You still have to be very talented. I mean, just take Josefson for example, he's been given opportunities with some talented linemates, yet never could produce more than a few points here and there. Zajac is a very good, possibly elite defensive center that can produce 40+ points with the right linemates.

So now we are comparing Josephson to Zajac??  seriously??  I'd love Zajac at Josefson's salary!!

 

BTW, there are 57 dmen with more pts than Zajac...  anyone still think he's worth 5.75Mil??

 

Gomez HAS more pts than Zajac!!  in 20 less games..

Bernier has the same amount of pts in with less then 60% of the ice time!!!

Kyle Palmieri has the same amount of pts in 20 less games and 60% of the ice time..

 

Zajac is really hurting this team, no way around it...

 

 

Lets compare 1st line centers ( as best I can figure who that is...)

 

Taveres $6MM  similar money, NOT similar stats

Mike Fisher $4.2Mil

Koivu $5.4Mil

Bolland $5.5Mil

Ryan Johansen $3.2Mil

Bryan Little $4.7 mIl

Nugent Hopkin $6Mill

Staakl $9.2 Mil

Stamkos $8Mil

Bergeron $7.5Mil

Datsuyk $10 Mil

Plakanec $5Mil

Sedin $7Mil

Stasny $6.5mil

Seguin $5.5Mil

Giroux $10Mil

Corsby $12Mil

Toews $6.5Mil

Backstrom $6.5Mil

Duchene $6Mil

Stepan $3.85Mil

Kopitar $7.5Mil

 

Sharks have 2 center making over $6Mil

 

Teams with 1st line center making  $4Mil or Less

Ottawa

Arizona

Calgary

Toronto

 

From what I can see most teams are around the $6Mil mark for 1st line centers, so to say Zajac gets 2nd line money is incorrect!!!

and comparing the stats of 1st & 2nd line centers to Zajac is just comical...

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1. You are comparing players at different stages in their career. Zajac was about to become UFA, many players you've listed are in their RFA years.

2. A lot of those are deals from the old CBA. 1st line centers come in at 8+ these days, whereas it was ~6 with the old CBA. Look at the deals signed under the new CBA by players who are at similar stages in their career. Toews, Getzlaf, soon Stamkos. They earn 140-180% of what Zajac is getting.

Edited by Marshall
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