Zajac gets contract extension: Eight years, $46 million

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The New Jersey Devils have made the first big splash under the new collective bargaining agreement, signing center Travis Zajac to an eight-year, $46 million contract extension.

Zajac, 27, was New Jersey’s first-round pick at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and has spent his entire six-year career with the Devils.

In 2010, he posted career highs in goals (25), assists (42) and points (67) and in 2011, became the franchise’s record holder for most consecutive games played (401).

Zajac missed a large chunk of the 2011-12 season with a torn Achilles, appearing in just 15 regular season contests (posting 2G-4A-6PTS). He recovered in time for the playoffs and was a huge part of New Jersey’s Stanley Cup finals run, posting 14 points in 24 games while scoring two game-winning goals.

With the new deal, Zajac will become New Jersey’s second highest-paid player — behind Ilya Kovalchuk — when his extension begins in 2013-14.

Zajac will carry a $5.75 million cap hit, up from his current $3.87 million.

Note: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos points out the deal is indicative of the “no more front-loaded contracts” theme featured in the new CBA.

Zajac will make $3.5 million in the first year of his deal, $5 million the next, $6.5 million from years three through six, and $5.75 million in the final two years.

He also has a full no-trade clause, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.