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Zajac: "I'm happy to be with the Devils"

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Zajac hopes to improve on a career-best season.

Watch Zajac highlights – Now that he has a new deal in place, Travis Zajac said he can focus on the season ahead. It was announced Wednesday that Zajac had signed a multi-year contract to remain in New Jersey.

"I didn't really know what was going to happen," Zajac said. "I was anxious to see what was going to take place, but I'm happy to be with the Devils. It's an exciting team and I'm happy to be a part of that."

The restricted free agent filed for salary arbitration on July 5, but avoids the hearing that was scheduled for later this week.

"We wanted something that myself and the organization would be comfortable with, and we were able to come to terms on that," he said. "I think we're both excited for the future here."

Zajac, 24, set new career highs across the board in 2008-09. Centering Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner, he collected 20 goals and 42 assists for a 28-point improvement over his 2007-08 campaign.

One of the most durable Devils, Zajac has appeared in 237 straight games since October 2006, and 244 of 246 games during his NHL career.

Jersey's Team will have a new look in 2009-10 and Zajac represents an important part of a younger Devils nucleus that will try to build on last year's franchise-record 51 wins.

"We still have a number of our core players back, and we have a lot of character in the dressing room," he said. "It looks like a younger team, but I think we're going to have a great mix of youth and players who have won and been there before."

The Winnipeg native is looking forward to playing for Jacques Lemaire, who guided the Devils to their first Stanley Cup title in 1995 and was named as the club's new head coach on July 13.

"He's a great coach," he said. "He's obviously won the Stanley Cup and has had a lot of success in Minnesota as well as in New Jersey. I'm excited to learn from him."

With a possible youth movement on the horizon, Zajac would be eager to step up and fill the role of mentor as he continues to develop – now under the winningest coach in Devils' history.

"I've learned a lot in the years that I've been there, and it's time for me to take on more of a role as a leader and a guy that could help out younger players," he said. "I'm looking forward to that job and to an exciting year."

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