The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually by the Professional Hockey Writers Association to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
The New Jersey chapter of the PHWA nominated Zajac.
Zajac, who played for UND from 2004-06 and helped the program to back-to-back NCAA Frozen Four appearances, is in his 14th NHL season — all of which have been spent with the Devils.
Zajac has nine goals and 25 points in 69 games this season for New Jersey.
“It’s kind of cool,” Zajac told the Devils’ website. “I mean, I think it means I’ve been playing a long time and been fortunate.
“I know I’ve got a lot of hockey left. I want to be part of this group. I see the talent, I see that some of the guys we have coming up and the pieces we have now, these are special players or they’re going to be great players. I can still be there to help guide them, and not only that but play some really good hockey myself.”
UND has had one winner of the Masterton Trophy in program history.
Jason Blake of Moorhead won it in 2008, when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Blake, who helped UND win the 1997 NCAA national championship, played in all 82 games that season despite being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Blake currently lives in the Twin Cities. His son, Jackson, is committed to UND.
Zajac has played in 991 regular-season NHL games.
Next season, he is set to become the fifth former UND player to reach the 1,000 regular-season NHL game mark. The others on that list are James Patrick (1,280), Craig Ludwig (1,256), Zach Parise (1,015) and Dave Christian (1,009). Parise hit the 1,000 mark this season.
Zajac’s 2019-20 season is over. The NHL recently announced that if it’s allowed to start back up again after the coronavirus pandemic shut it down in March, it will begin with the playoffs. New Jersey will not be a part of it.
The other teams that will miss the playoffs are the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
NHL sets training camp date
For the 24 teams that will compete in the playoffs, a date has been set for the beginning of training camp.
The NHL announced Thursday that it will be July 10, assuming conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic allow for it to happen.
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10, provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play,” the league said in a statement. “The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date.”