I suppose I was crazy to think that a team that finished 27th out of 30 would try to purge all their below-replacement-level guys off the roster in one summer. With Exelby gone, and Johan Hedberg perhaps headed out the door, Slater and Thorburn were next up on my "gee can't we do better than this" chopping block. Opps. Two steps forward, one step back I suppose.
What more can I say? As I explained here, the Thrashers allowed an astonishing 88 Goals on the Penalty Kill last year. More than any other factor, the PK pushed them way down the standings. Kubina and Antropov should help some but neither have been PK warriors with their recent clubs. And yet the Thrashers re-sign who was among the worst guys on our PK for two years in a row. Slater is either extremely unlucky when he's PKing or he's not very good at it compared to his teammates. The Thrashers desperately need improvement on the PK and I think they missed a chance to get better by bringing back both Thorburn and Slater and not taking a hard look at a PK specialist like Veillieux or Hinote.
Having made that enormous disclaimer, Slater works hard, has + speed in the straightaway and makes tight turns like like a stretch Hummer. He also looks good in green and white from what I hear. I'm not sure he's what the Thrashers needed--but he is what they've got.
Here are his TOI rankings and Scoring Efficiency numbers in his NHL career. Warning: ugly numbers are just ahead! I find it interesting that each successive year the coaching staff has reduced Slater's Even Strength ice time compared to other NHL forwards. Perhaps the coaching staff is on to something here?
Jim Slater ES TOI Percentile Ranking (100% = most in the NHL per game)
Two season ago Slater started off as a regular on the PK. But after Larsen and Slater got destroyed while short handed both were booted off. Last season he stayed on the PK unit all season. Ugliness prevailed when he was out there.
|2008 SH Rank||2008 Player||2008 SH TOI per Game||2008 SH GAA||x||2009 SH Rank||2009 Player||2009 SH TOI per Game||2009 SH GAA|
Two seasons ago Slater's PK Goals Against was about 4 goals worse than the typical Thrasher PKer. Last season it was just 1 goal worse than average. His personal PKGA improved but it was still below average on a woeful PK unit.
As I said at the beginning "meh."