As I told you yesterday, the Thrashers were close to a new deal with forward Jim Slater. The team announced that they have come to terms with the forward Tuesday.
Here’s the first version of the story after I talked to Slater, who is seeing the sights of California:
Though he’s spending much of his summer sightseeing in California, Jim Slater wanted to be back in Atlanta next season. Now he will be.
The forward, one of 10 Thrashers scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $2 million Tuesday. The deal will pay Slater $900,000 next season and $1.1 million in 2011-12.
Slater, 27, scored a career-high 11 goals last season despite appearing in only 61 games after being a healthy scratch in 21 of the Thrashers’ first 38 games. He cracked the lineup for good on Dec. 30 and played the final 44 games. Slater also had seven assists, two game-winning goals and a plus-one rating.
“It feels good,” Slater said Tuesday. “At the end of the season I met with the staff and I thought I had a good chance to come back. I want to help this organization be as good as it can be. I’ve been here since I was drafted and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I think we are moving in the right direction and I want to be a part of it.”
In five seasons with the Thrashers, Slater has 88 points (42 goals, 46 assists). He was a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in 2002.
Slater was one of the NHL’s best at taking faceoffs last season. He won 59.2 percent of 431 faceoffs. Only four players in the league with that many chances recorded a better winning percentage than Slater.
A team and fan favorite, Slater won the team’s Dan Synder Memorial Trophy and Community Service Award following the season.
Slater said the organizational changes – the move of Don Waddell to president, Rick Dudley to general manager and eventually a new head coach – played a role in him not testing the free-agent waters on July 1.
“It shows you that they want to be better,” Slater said. “I fully support the moves they are making to get us moving in the right direction and make the team better.”
Slater said he has already begun working out in preparation for next season and will get “real serious” in the upcoming weeks.