Last week it was reported by Elliotte Friedman that a few managers around the league believed Lou Lamoriello might be interested in reuniting with Travis Zajac, a player he recently signed to a long term deal in Jersey at a heavy price tag. There have been a few rumblings since, with the usual insiders in Toronto being asked to weigh in on a potential deal, but nothing really to chew on in terms of actual names or whatnot. Over on the Jersey side, however, apparently the rumours are getting stronger, with Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger and NJ.com tossing some very interesting targets out there.
Perhaps the most common assumption about potential trade pieces since this Zajac thing has been thrown around is that the Leafs would look to unload a terrible contract like Bozak or Lupul, maybe even both. Phaneuf might be an option there too.
Zajac has six years left on a 5.75-million dollar cap hit, and his performance, especially with respect to offensive production, has been on a major decline. He’s also on the wrong side of thirty-years-old. The whole thing doesn’t add up unless Toronto is able to shake some of their garbage off as well. But this is where these rumours get weird, from NJ.com:
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.
Alright, first off, I don’t know how much of an insider Chere is, and a few Jersey fans have said he likes to speculate a fair bit, but he does write for a couple legit outlets.
It’s hard to dream up any kind of trade where the Leafs ship out a player like Kadri or van Riemsdyk with Zajac coming back the other way. Even if the Devils started throwing in picks you can’t really get close to something that makes sense, given how much of a burden Zajac’s contract is. And don’t get me wrong, I’m probably one of a few people who don’t believe Zajac is that bad. Some have been comparing him to Bozak and I think that’s completely unfair. But still, his contract just stinks. You don’t give up real assets for it, let alone young top six players.
Personally I have a hard time believing either of these names would be involved, and there isn’t anything to suggest Shanahan would sign off on something like this. It likely isn’t anything to worry about in terms of the Leafs getting fleeced, but if this Zajac rumour keeps popping up over the next few days or weeks, we’ll know there’s at least something to it – not with Kadri or JVR involved, but just talks in general. Keep in mind Friedman is especially well-connected with the Leafs, and now that this appears to be getting a little traction on the Jersey side as well, it’s at least something to keep an eye on.