Jim Slater, 30, C, 6'0, 200 lbs
Last Year's Ranking: 15
This Year's Ranking: 15
Michael Frolik, 25, LW, 6'1, 198 lbs
Last Year's Ranking: (w/ Chicago Blackhawks)
This Year's Ranking: 14
It's fitting that the fifteenth and fourteenth best players on the Winnipeg Jets are both their best two penalty killers.
Jim Slater has been the Jets best faceoff man for the past two seasons.
In lockout shortened – and for Slater an injury shortened – 2012-13 season, Slater took only 267 faceoffs playing on the fourth line, but managed to win 54.3% of his draws. Compare that to the other centres last season: Bryan Little took 842 faceoffs, won 51.2%, Jokinen took 630, won 47.6%, Antropov took 304, won 42.1%, and Burmistrov took 301, won 47.2%.
Compare that even to the Jets first full season in 2011-12, Slater took the second most faceoffs (1165) behind Little (1479) and was 54.4% compared to Little's 49.6%
It's obvious, the Jets missed Slater's faceoff prowess on the team considering the lack of consistency shown from the other centres across the lineup.
For 2013-14 though Slater is ready to go and not to be hampered by any other nagging injuries that made him only dress for 26 games last season.
It's not the first time in Slater's career he has been out of service for long amounts of time with injury. In 2010-11, he played in only 36 games, while playing in 61 and 60 the two years previous in Atlanta.
Beside a career high 78 games played in 2011-12, Slater's previous career high was 74 and 71 in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
The Jets didn't just miss the faceoff wins, but his penalty killing help too as the Jets finished 24th in the league in penalty killing with a dreadful 79.7% success rate.
That success rate may change with help from Stanley Cup champion Michael Frolik – who's penalty killing heroics in Chicago helped the Blackhawks win a second Stanley Cup in four years.
A former top 10 pick of the Florida Panthers in 2006, Frolik has seen flashes of offensive flash – 21 goals in 2008-09 and 2009-10 – and flashes of defensive stubbornness.
A sniper turned defensive forward, Frolik has embraced the role of being a motivating player who's instincts and work ethic of killing penalties can change momentum in an instant.
Playing now with childhood friend Ondrej Pavelec should help Frolik in his chase for a second Stanley Cup, but with former Chicago Stanley Cup winners already on the Jets – i.e. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien – there is still work to do for the Jets new penalty killing duo.