According to the Devils, the injury was sustained last week during offseason training and it will take until mid-December at the earliest for Zajac to recover.
The news comes just weeks before the start of the NHL’s preseason, leaving the Devils without a top-line center. Luckily for New Jersey, Nico Hischier, this year’s No. 1 overall pick from the draft, could be primed and ready to take over Zajac’s spot in as the 32-year-old recovers from surgery.
Zajac posted 45 points in 80 games last season, good enough for third on the Devils in terms of point production. The center was also second on the team in assists with 31, his highest total since the 2010-11 season. Zajac had been relatively healthy as of late, missing fewer than 10 games in each of his last five seasons played.
Besides Hischier down the middle, the Devils have Pavel Zacha and Brian Boyle also penciled in on the depth chart. Missing a 40-point center for the first few months of the season, however, does hurt the Devils’ chances for a bounce-back year from a 70-point season.
Zajac has four years left on a $46 million deal signed in January 2013. The 32-year-old has played his entire 11-year NHL career in New Jersey.