Things were starting to feel a little dicey with the NHL Entry Draft just a couple of weeks away and none of the Winnipeg Jets’ free agents signed. Center Jim Slater was the first to agree to terms on a new deal with the Jets on a contract of three years, worth $4.8 million.
Slater will carry a cap hit of $1.6 million per season through the 2014-15 campaign. His cap hit was $1 million the past two seasons, so Slater gets a well-deserved raise and the Jets do not sacrifice too much cap space. Slater was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so signing him before the draft helps in a big way. The organization now has one less priority worry about with players like Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec and Tanner Glass still needing new contracts.
Jets fans will be very happy to see Slater back in Winnipeg. He was a well-liked figure in the team’s inaugural season and was a key contributor in the bottom six. Slater always played with energy, played physically (163 hits) and was great in the faceoff circle, winning 54.4% of his draws. He was also an integral part of the penalty killing unit, averaging 2:12 SH TOI per game.
Slater is a player who knows his role and can contribute everything you would ask out of a third or fourth line center. He even scored some big goals in the last few games of the season. It must be reiterated that the Jets made a smart move in not letting him hit the open market in July because he’s the type of player every team needs, even though he won’t show up on the score sheet very often. Even though some people probably wouldn’t like the idea of giving him more than $1.6 million, I believe a desperate enough club would have thrown $2 million at him, especially one looking for a role-playing center who can hit, win draws and kill penalties.