Travis Zajac to Maple Leafs trade talk grows forever louder

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Travis Zajac to Maple Leafs trade talk grows forever louder
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Whenever a coach or general manager switches teams, it’s assumed that a few of his good soldiers from the previous team will end up in his new environs. 

This would be the only reason Travis Zajac would ever end up on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well, that and they have more money than the gross national product of several Central American nations, and he has a rather large contract.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet noted that “there’s more than one NHL exec who thinks Lou Lamoriello would love to get his hands on Travis Zajac.”

Lamoriello drafted Zajac with the New Jersey Devils and bestowed unto him an 8-year contract in 2013, the first long-term “franchise” deal under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The $46 million deal runs through 2020-21 and is about to reach its richest years: $6.5 million due for the next four seasons, before it dips down to $5.75 million for the last two years, He’ll be 35 by the end of the contract.

Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger addressed the trade talk, although referencing “talk in Toronto” sounds suspiciously like “there’s this thing I read on the Internet”:

Talk in Toronto is growing louder that the Devils may already have a trade on the table that would send center Travis Zajac to the Maple Leafs.

It is no secret that former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would like to acquire Zajac, but it is believed that he is discussing several potential deals with Ray Shero. Center Nazem Kadri is one potential piece of a trade, although the Devils would undoubtedly consider a package deal if it could bring James van Riemsdyk to New Jersey.

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Oh, thanks for clearing that up. Here we thought Ray Shero would hang up the phone indignantly after telling Lamoriello to lose his number when being offered James van Riemsdyk for TRAVIS ZAJAC and things.

Look, Zajac gets a lot of grief because his offensive output fell off a cliff after 2010, failing to hit 50 points since then. Hence, he’s afflicted with a bit of Chris Drury disease, in that his cap hit promises an offensive output he doesn’t deliver, and that lack of production overshadows the things Zajac does well. He’s a great two-way center, wins a ton of faceoffs and would be perfectly fine as the second or third-line center on a good team.

But all too frequently, Devils fans treat him with Bozakian ridicule. Hey, it’s not like his stats were padded by an exponentially more talented friend on his line or anything …

So if the Leafs were to acquire Zajac, it’s fine as long as they make the obvious move: Deal Tyler Bozak for him.

He’s a free agent in 2018 and is scheduled to make $13.5 million through the end of the term. He has a $4.2 million cap hit. The Devils save money, pick up a shorter contract and probably get a draft pick out of it; the Leafs get rid of a middling talent whose very existence on the roster is nonsensical without Phil Kessel there, and pick up a solid two-way center and better all-around player. 

And Lamoriello would stick the Devils with Bozak.

Hell hath no fury like a Lou scorned. 

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