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Jim Slater is Injured - Again

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Winnipeg Jets fourth line centre Jim Slater has had surgery to repair and injured hip - his second surgery of the year.

Marianne Helm

Jim Slater appears to be is a good soldier (obviously not an actual soldier) and a nice guy. He plays hard and is without a doubt the Winnipeg Jets faceoff man - when he is on the ice. Unfortunately for Jim, staying on the ice has become a bit of an issue. Jim Slater has missed 81 games over the last three seasons.

And he is hurt again:

This isn't a new issue though, Slater has a long history of injuries:

DATE INJURY / GAMES MISSED
3/22/2014 Missed 3 games (lower body injury).
2/26/2014 Missed 52 games (sports hernia).
4/27/2013 Missed the last 22 regular season games (hand injury).
1/4/2012 Missed 2 games (rib injury).
10/27/2011 Missed 1 game (undisclosed).
10/22/2011 Missed 1 game (flu).
4/10/2011 Missed the last 41 regular season games (concussion).
10/14/2010 Missed 3 games (wrist injury).
3/3/2009 Missed 16 games (shoulder injury).
2/27/2009 Missed 15 games (shoulder injury).
1/16/2008 Missed 9 games (illness) and assigned to Chicago (AHL).
12/9/2006 Missed 4 games (foot injury).
Total 169 Games Missed / 502 Games Played

Numbers via TSN

Notes:

  • Over his career, Jim Slater has missed more than a quarter of the games he was eligible to play due to injuries.
  • As a member of the Winnipeg Jets, Jim Slater has missed more than 38% of the games he was eligible to play.
  • No two injuries were the same.
  • That is a load of missed games.

But he is worth it!

This is where things get tricky. Jim Slater is a heart and soul player. He battles hard, he hits and does what is asked of him, but apart from faceoffs he doesn't really bring a ton to the roster. Jim Slater can kill penalties, but not particularly well. He can move up the lineup if there is an injury, but he does not thrive. He really is little more than a run of the mill 4th line centre.

Going back a couple years, some people round these parts thought his contract extension was an odd one - and that was before the injury bug reared its ugly head. After all, a mediocre fourth liner is a highly replaceable piece and one that can surely be found for less than 1.6 million dollars a year. Bigger than the dollars though is the issue of term. Locking up bottom end talent over longer term creates a log jam for prospects (Also see: Chris Thorburn for 3 years, Eric Tangradi and Anthony Peluso for 2 years and Mark Stuart and Grant Clitsome - odds are we will be saying the same thing two years from now). Bottom end players on long term deals don't make much sense unless the team is getting a bargain.

Moving Forward

Now the Jets are saddled with a relatively expensive fourth line centre with some serious question marks attached to his health. Will he play? If so, how many games. His presence has also blocked AHL prospects from logging substantial ice time and earning a full time spot. Of course, this isn't a huge issue. Jim Slater only has one year remaining on his deal  and when he is in the lineup he will be fine, but this may be worth looking at as a cautionary tale.

Anyways, best of luck to Jimmy Slates. Hopefully he bounces back and erases injury concerns.