New Jersey Devils Travis Zajac
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac should be a frontrunner for the NHL’s 2020 Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Two New Jersey Devils have proudly earned the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy twice since the team’s inception back in 1982-83. There’s a chance that centerman Travis Zajac could ink his name on that list and be the third New Jersey skater to take home the honor.

The Devils announced on Tuesday that the team’s longest-tenured player was New Jersey’s 2019-20 nominee, and there’s reason to believe Zajac is a frontrunner for the accolade. The Masterton is awarded to the skater who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

For starters, Brain Boyle most recently won the Masterton with the Devils in 2017-18, after his memorable comeback from battling leukemia. Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Devil in Ken Daneyko, who was awarded the trophy back in 1999-00.

That’s some good company in Devils history, no?

Why should Zajac win the Masterton?

How often do athletes play their entire careers with one team?

Not only is the 2004 first-round draft pick on the verge of accomplishing that feat with New Jersey, but Zajac also declined a trade option this past season when he had an opportunity to join a playoff contender.

Again, how often do athletes opt to leave a market and pursue better opportunities when it’s time to move on and a respective club might be rebuilding…it’s common, no?

Considering that No. 19 has skated in 991 career regular-season games with the Devils and opted to stay with a young club with little direction – he should be a frontrunner for the Masterton.

The forward began his NHL career on a yearly playoff contender, while the Devils painfully dwindled to a bottom feeder of the league standings after their Stanley Cup run in 2011-12.

His dedication towards the organization since 2006-07 is commendable, and he’s been a true example of what it means to be a first-class teammate.

Sometimes the good guys do win…

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.