Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Early Departures begin, Zajac Signs with Devils.

Travis Zajac is gone.

Its official Travis Zajac is the first Fighting Sioux player to sign a professional contract. Zajac signed a 3 year contract with the New Jersey Devils. Personally I hate this time of year, each year right after the Fighting Sioux finish with the NCAA playoffs we immediately wonder who is going to go pro. Two years ago with was Zach Parise (one of the hardest moments for me in Sioux Sports, it took weeks to recover from it), last year surprisingly Brady Murray went pro (his loss not as significant and was hardly missed). This year it was Zajac and Smaby probably to follow and maybe Stafford. Sometimes the speculation begins before the last second has ticked off of the scoreboard. Why we ask? Because UND is the pinnacle of college hockey we have come to expect that yearly we will love our players to the NHL, because UND recruits the best division one athletes. Yearly we are going to experience this because the NHL is continuing to take our top players long before they have finished their college eligibility.

New Jersey is also famous for taking college hockey players, their roster includes Former Sioux: David Hale, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac Gophers: Paul Martin, Erik Rasmussen Wolverines: John Madden, Eagles: Brian Gionta, Badgers: Brian Rafalski, Terriers: Jay Pondolfo. I used to hate New Jersey being a Boston Bruins fan, however, I have learned to like to watch them play. The Devils are a young team with a lot of heart and some good talent. Its roster resembles that of an NCAA all-star game.

Smaby Gone
The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that; captain Matt Smaby also is believed to be close to signing a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Smaby was selected in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Lightning.

Tim Hennessy is reporting on the radio this morning that Smaby's departure is "imminent."
Goon’s Perspective:
NOOOOOOOOOO I really love Matt Smaby’s play and it has gotten better each year, the kid is a monster and is going to be a force in the NHL. I guess I will become a Tampa Bay fan. With Tampa’s poor goaltending his play is going to be a plus. Look for him to be in the NHL by the middle of next season. Matt Smaby’s loss In my opinion affects the Fighting Sioux the most. Defense from the goalie out is the first and foremost important task and Matt’s play has gotten better by the moment.

Stafford gone yet?
I talked to someone yesterday that asked Drew Stafford if he was going to sign with Buffalo and apparently Drew said that Buffalo has talked to him but nothing there was nothing for sure yet.

Dar’s Perspective From Sioux Sports
.A fan named DAR's Perspective on Zajac Leaveing

Goon’s Reply:
Respectfully I must disagree with your logic DAR. For the record I believe that this person is not a true Sioux fan, possibly a Gopher fan. Or a Sioux fan that is still smarting from the loss. First off your assuming now that since we will lose these players UND is going to be very good next season and the cupboard is bare. I think this is hardly the case, especially with this team. Even with what we will lose, we will be gaining some amazing players and having some amazing players returning I think UND is going to be just as strong and if not better. Imagine Toews with a summer in the weight room same with Lee and Oshie. You see what I am getting at. I Hope Fighting Sioux fans don’t abandon ship because of a few defections to the pros. The opposition has seen what the Fighting Sioux can do this season and if I was a coach in Denver Minnesota, Colorado or Wisconsin I would be a little worried already. I just hope Hak doesn’t put a lot of stock in winning the McNaughten Anchor. Focus on the championship and getting ready for the playoffs, make sure you in the top three at the end of the season and a 1, 2, seed in the pair wise. My only other message to Sioux fans is be strong and don't worry UND is going to be an awesome hockey team. It was the BADgers time this season, next year will be our time.

Zajac’s Numbers
Travis Zajac ends his career with 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points, there is no doubt if he would have stayed he would have had amazing numbers for his career and finished up the Sioux all time points list, he will be missed but life will go on. I wish him well and hope that his NHL career is successful and he help lead the Devils to the NHL title. As we know in life nothing is a given and you must play the cards that are dealt to you. I would have a hard time turning down 400,000 + in signing bonuses to stay in college for another year

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