Center Jim Slater has been rewarded for his loyalty with a big pay rise. Al Dannity breaks down the deal and looks at what it means to the Jets going forward into their second season back in Winnipeg.
The S in the GST Line remains a Jet after inking a new contract extension. Jim Slater, who was a potential unrestricted free agent, has signed a new deal worth $4.8 million over the next three seasons. That’s quite a reward for the 29 year old center who earned $1.1 million last season. Slater, Tanner Glass, and Chris Thorburn formed the GST line for Winnipeg last season and they proved to be taxing on opponents throughout the NHL. Slater was the Jets’ top faceoff center last season, winning 54.4 percent and he averaged 14 minutes 45 seconds of ice time. It proved to be the Lapeer, Mich. native’s finest offensive season to date in the league, with 13 goals and 21 points. That was enough to convince Hockey USA to bring Slater to the IIHF World Championships, where they reached the quarter finals.
It was also enough to convince the Jets that Slater will play a key role in Winnipeg’s playoff push next season. “We talked a lot within the group with respect to the type of person that Jim is, what he brings to the table, his work ethic,” said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff when announcing the signing on Wednesday. “He showed the commitment to us. He could have taken his opportunity to go to free agency, which players covet, and we showed a commitment to him.” Size is seen as a crucial area for Winnipeg and retaining Slater ensures the Jets have a key piece in their effort to get bigger, despite his relatively modest 6 foot stature.
Room to grow
The Jets were far more competitive in the push for the playoffs than expected last season and they have the cap room to take the next step. Last season the Jets were around $10 million before the NHL salary cap of $64.3 million. This gives them ammunition to grow on two fronts. Players who have shown commitment to the Jets and delivered can be enticed to stay in Winnipeg with more lucrative contracts. Likewise free agents will find the Jets a more attractive option given the breadth of cap room at their disposal. Slater’s new contract may only be the first piece of the puzzle but the future is bright in Winnipeg.
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