The season has been laid to rest.
Fans have completed their lamenting of the Anaheim Ducks sweeping the Winnipeg Jets. The healing process has begun.
But, before full closure can be completed, an autopsy of the Jets season must be initiated.
We turn our evidence-based breakdown of the Jets with the Jets’ face off specialist, Jim Slater.
Numbers include all situations including non 5v5 TOI.
Jim Slater played a full 82 games for the first time in his career. He also played the fewest minutes per game of his career as well.
While Slater picked up more points than his last few seasons, there are quite a few signs of Slater receding significantly due to age.
His ice time per game was at a career low as previously mentioned. Also, his shot volume has been in a tailspin, with this season being about half what he used to produce per minute in Atlanta. Despite having the highest 5v5 shooting percentage and fourth highest on-ice shooting percentage of his career, he still scored lower than his career average pace per minute.
Graph courtesy of WAR-on-Ice.
Rankings are out of the Jets 17 forwards with 50+ 5v5 minutes, except special team minutes are each out of 11 Jet forwards.
Since the move to Winnipeg, Slater has been predominately deployed in the defensive zone. This continued the last season, although to a far lesser extent than previous. In fact, Slater was not the primary centre choice for defensive zone face offs, with Mark Scheifele assuming that responsibility, and Mathieu Perreault right behind.
Slater took up less of the Jets 5v5 ice time in a game than any other player except Anthony Peluso, this includes frequent press box players like Matt Halischuk, TJ Galiardi, and Eric O`Dell. Slater did play a slew of short handed ice time though, despite being one of the worst performers for short handed minutes in Jets’ history.
Slater was heavily hidden from the oppositions best players, but also only played with the Jets lesser forwards.
Slater started off the season being used as a defensive zone specialist, then Paul Maurice changed. Maurice started lessening the load on Slater, sheltering him even more, and the results began to improve. Slater gained another boost when the Jets added Jiri Tlusty to Slater’s line.
Slater was one of the few Jets not to out perform his ice time peers.
Visual courtesy of Micah McCurdy.
Slater mostly played with Anthony Peluso and Chris Thorburn, although sometimes one would be replaced by TJ Galiardi or Matt Halischuk. After the trade deadline, the Jets forward depth became completely remodelled and Slater got to play with bonafide top nine forwards like Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty.
The underlying statistics do not appear all that great for Jim Slater. As noted earlier, he scored okay but below average despite experiencing inflated percentages.
Slater literally finished last or second last in every shot metric.
The Jets controlled only 47 per cent of shot attempts with Slater on the ice, while controlling 55 per cent while he was on the bench. Scoring chances were even worse, with the Jets controlling 44 per cent with Slater on the ice and 54 per cent with him on the bench.
dCorsi states that despite Slater playing severely sheltered and minimal minutes, he was well over his head and probably not a NHL caliber player. Goals Above Replacement indicate that Slater likely had the worst impact on the Jets goal differentials than any other forward.
Jim Slater is a free agent this summer, and all evidence points out to Slater not deserving an extension. There are fourth line players out there who can play a similar role and minutes while being far more effective in them, Jets own Eric O`Dell is one of those.
Of course, the same could be said when the Jets last extended Slater, and when they last extended Chris Thorburn.
Loyalty is a good characteristic to have, and so are other intangibles; however, they should not come with severely sacrificing on-ice performance.