NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — After losing Zach Parise to free agency, the New Jersey Devils didn't make the same mistake with center Travis Zajac.
Zajac was signed to an eight-year, $46 million contract with the Devils on Wednesday, ending any chance that New Jersey would lose its No. 1 center after this season.
Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced the deal shortly after Zajac scored a power-play goal off a great pass from Ilya Kovalchuk in a scrimmage against Albany of the AHL.
"I want to be here," Zajac said. "I believe in this organization. I think it is a first-class organization. It's the environment I want to surround myself on and off the ice, and my family loves New Jersey. We like the people here. We like living here. With all that and the players and coaching staff, I think we have a great chance here to always be successful."
Zajac is going to have money, too. He will make $3.5 million this season, $5 million the next and $6.5 million in the four-year span from 2015-16 through 2018-19. His salary the final two seasons will be $5.75 million.
"He's developed himself into an all-situation, complete player," Lamoriello said. "He's one of our core leaders. He has been from day one. His play in the playoffs was certainly monumental for us. As far as him coming back it's quite evident what he means."
Lamoriello said the two sides had started to work on the new contract before the NHL lockout began in September. They finished it after the league and its players finalized a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement earlier this month.
"Now I can just focus on making sure I am at my best for the season and continue to improve," Zajac said after the scrimmage.