Player Preview: Jim Slater

Trin Potratz
August 12 2014 12:52PM

Jim Slater has been with the franchise since the Atlanta days after being drafted with the final pick in the first round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Slater never became a perennial point producer as an NHLer and instead reinvented himself as a defensive specialist.

Slater has had injury issues for the past two seasons, playing only 53 games and scoring an alarmingly low two goals and two assists over that time. For that kind of production, Slater’s $1.6 million contract looks like yet another questionable contract on the Jets payroll.

PERFORMANCE

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Slater starts the majority of his faceoffs in the defensive zone at even strength and that attributes to his poor Corsi levels, but it puts him in the same boat as players employed in the same role like Boyd Gordon and Brandon Sutter.

Despite his injury-riddled seasons and dwindling production, Slater has improved his possession game the last two seasons in comparison with his poor first season since the switch from Atlanta to Winnipeg where he recorded a horrible 41.3% Corsi.

To be fair however, Slater’s most common linemates for that season were Tanner Glass, Antti Miettinen and Chris Thorburn. Not the best of linemates by any means.

Slater should be able to get back to being a decent defensive centre and some more production is expected if he can stay healthy.

EXPECTATIONS

Slater’s career high in points also came during his poorest Corsi season and first with the Jets, but it was only 13 goals and 21 points. Before the previous two seasons, Slater was consistent at producing between 15-20 points, and there’s no reason to expect anything more or less for the 2014-15 season.

Slater falls under the category of “good dressing room guys” that seem to get raises despite either a decrease in performance or injury history from GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, but Slater is a useful player (unlike the Thorburns and Stuarts).

He’s not a real sexy pick in any fantasy leagues, and THN has Slater’s point prediction below my thoughts at 11.

Nothing exciting to see hear folks, just simply hope his defensive game doesn’t struggle and you will hardly notice him on the ice.

MAJOR QUESTIONS

1.     Can he stay healthy?

Once you have more than two consecutive injury seasons, it’s hard to shake the label of being injury-prone, but in order for Slater to continue his NHL career passed this season, he’ll need to stay healthy. At 31 years young, Slater may be looking at his last NHL contract, so he may be motivated to cash in.

2.     Where does Slater fit on the roster?

After being injured so much the past couple of seasons, Slater’s job down the middle was filled in by farm hands like Eric O’Dell, John Albert and Patrice Cormier. It’s possible that if Slater gets hurt for any significant amount of time again that one of the aforementioned players takes his spot for good. O’Dell will likely make the club out of training camp and will be pushing Slater to perform.

3.     Can he score more this season?

For his cap hit, Slater doesn’t produce enough. While the NHL’s salary cap ceiling continues to rise and players start seeing more $$$$$’s regardless of their role, today Slater is overpaid.

Lou Lamoriello has been quoted saying he’d pay a checker $5 million if he felt that player had as much to do with a team’s success as the $5 million first line centre, but that was simply a feel-good quote.

Slater was likely worth a solid $1 million when he signed the deal, but until he starts scoring at least 25 points, he’s not worth it.

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Potratz is SAIT Journalism graduate and has worked as a reporter for the Grande Prairie Daily-Herald Tribune and Strathmore Standard. After keeping his own personal blog at www.potratzhockey.com he aspired to join the Nation Network. Follow him on Twitter @PotratzHockey
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