NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac was a welcomed addition to the team's morning skate at Prudential Center on Thursday.
Zajac, who has been out of the lineup since Jan. 4 with an injured left Achilles tendon, will miss his 32nd straight game on Thursday when the Devils host the Colorado Avalanche. The fact he was on the ice with the team was certainly a positive step in the latter stages of his rehibilatation.
Zajac told The (Bergen) Record on Wednesday that he received medical clearance to "amp up" his skating.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed that statement, but said there is still no set date for his return to the lineup.
"We're not going to have any conversation (with the media) about when he's ready and when he's not ready," Lamoriello told The Record. "When that time comes, you'll know the day when he plays. The coach will say when he's playing. It is not going to happen immediately. It's going to take a while and there is no time frame, but he has been given the OK to practice and have contact."
Zajac has missed the last 32 games for the Devils and has played in just eight contests this season -- he has 1 goal and 3 points.
Devils captain Zach Parise was certainly glad to see his former centerman back in the lineup.
"He seems real excited," Parise told The Star-Ledger. "He looks like he's walking better. I think he feels more confident skating now."
Zajac would like to return before the end of the regular season.
"We’ll talk with the doctors every week and go from there," Zajac told reporters after the team's practice on Thursday. "There's no set date. We'll take it a day at a time here. The key for me is getting in good practices when the team does practice and trying to get in some game-like situations."
Probable lineup for the Devils:
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
Martin Brodeur is the likely starter with Johan Hedberg serving as backup.