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Devils expecting C Zajac back soon

Coming into this season, Devils center Travis Zajac had played over 400 consecutive NHL games, which set a new franchise record in that category, however he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in the off-season and has yet to play in 2011-12.  That could change very soon, according to General Manager Lou Lamoriello.  Zajac is expected to join the Devils and practice with the team by next Wednesday.  He is regarded as one of the top two-way centers in the NHL, despite struggling last season and putting up just 44 points in 82 games.  Zajac and left wing Zach Parise were one of the league's most lethal offensive combinations from 2008-2010, but Parise lasted just 12 games last season before his season essentially ended with a torn meniscus (he returned for one game in April).

Zajac's return figures to be a huge lift for the Devils, who lost young center Jacob Josefson early this season to a collar bone injury.  Josefson is not expected to return to the Devils' lineup until February.  The team promoted rookie Adam Henrique to first line duties, and he has not disappointed (5 goals and 9 assists in 19 games this season) with Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk as linemates.  Still, Zajac recorded seasons of 62 and 67 points with Parise to his left, so he will likely assume first line duties soon after he returns to the lineup.  Zajac will also join the NHL's top penalty killing unit in the league.

Travis Zajac had been rehabbing in his hometown of Winnipeg, but he has travelled to New Jersey on occasion.  He is not travelling with the Devils as they visit the Colorado Avalanche tonight, and stay out west when they visit Minnesota and Winnipeg (Zajac could potentially re-join them from Winnipeg back to New Jersey).  He is ahead of his original rehab schedule.  Many people within the organization believed Zajac would be out until January, but he could realistically return before Christmas.  For a team that has experimented with centers all season (including moving two left wings - Parise and Patrik Elias - to center), that is good news.  The Devils are currently 12-9-1, so they have managed to stay afloat without two of their offensive centers.

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