Devils’ Travis Zajac could return for game vs. Maple Leafs

New Jersey Devils centre Travis Zajac. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

The New Jersey Devils could be getting some reinforcements for their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Travis Zajac has missed all of the Devils’ 17 games this season but could be ready to make his debut.

Zajac has been out since he received surgery for a torn pectoral muscle on Aug. 17.

He was cleared to practice on Saturday and has been practising on the top line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.

“I felt fine,” Zajac said after practice on Tuesday. “It’s nice to get into a practice, get some drills, and feel the pace. You have some guys out there who aren’t messing around this year; we’ve got some speed. I just need to get back that puck control, getting it in tight spaces with not having much time to make a play. You have to think and react quickly, and I haven’t been able to do until [Tuesday].”

The return of the 32-year-old, 11-year NHL veteran will help bolster an already red-hot Devils team which has placed itself with the best of the Eastern Conference after their 11-4-2 start, which has them in first place of the Metropolitan Division.

The centre has been a very important part of the Devils — the only team he’s played for — over his career and has played in over 74 games every year except one (not including the 48 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season) while recording at least 40 points seven times.

New Jersey handed the Leafs their first loss of the season during their first meeting this year, a 6-3 win on Oct. 11.

Zajac’s return means that rookie Nico Hischier has been moved down a line, practising between Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford.

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