New Jersey Devils: Does Gusev trade signal the end for Zacha?

Nikita Gusev, Russia. New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Nikita Gusev, Russia. New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /


The 2015 NHL Entry draft was a pivotal one for the league. Maybe the league’s current best player Connor McDavid was the first overall pick by Edmonton. Another perennial all-star Jack Eichel went second to Buffalo. It was also important for the New Jersey Devils, but for different reasons. They used the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on Pavel Zacha from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting.

Zacha went to camp with NJD in 2015 but as expected he was sent back to Sarnia where he got off to a slow start. The big center also struggled in the subsequent WJC. Zacha rebounded later in Sarnia’s season and turned it up a notch during the postseason.

After the OHL playoffs, Zacha had a successful cameo for New Jersey in April 2016, picking up a pair of assists before heading to Albany for the remainder of the AHL season and playoffs. That period may have been the apex of his career.

Zacha stuck with the New Jersey Devils after a good 2016 camp. From there it’s been downhill ever since. In three seasons with the team since, he has appeared in 200 NHL regular-season games and scored a whopping 74 points. Last November, after going pointless in his first 10 games, Zacha was demoted to the minors for almost two weeks.

The center seemed to respond and learn from his detour to Binghamton, posting five points in four games. Upon his return he told Chris Ryan of

"“First day, first two days was hard,” he said. “But then I learned, just play my best. Think short-term goals. One day at a time.”"

Even so, Zacha only scored 25 points in 51 games to finish out 2018-19. At least he’s consistent, the two previous years, Zacha had 25 and 24 points respectively. Unfortunately, things got tougher for him this offseason.