Shoulder injuries now behind Thrashers' Slater

Both of them; the one he dislocated and the one he separated.

The shoulder injuries, along with a head injury, cost the Thrashers forward 22 games last season.

“They are healthy now,” Slater said Thursday. “I did a lot of rehab every single day. They are as good as new.”

Slater missed 16 games in January and February after he dislocated his shoulder in a game against Montreal on Jan. 20.

He rehabbed the injury, a process that took a long six weeks.

However once he returned, he played only two weeks before taking an elbow to the head against Buffalo on March 14. In addition to the head injury, Slater separated his other shoulder. It would cost him another six games.

“It’s just something that happens during a game,” Slater said. “I got hit into the boards one game, just like happens a thousand times a year. The other time I took a cheap shot and went down. … You go through all that physical therapy for six weeks. You come back and you’re feeling good and healthy, and then it happened again.”

Slater returned -- again -- to finish the season. He ended with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists). The shoulders were fully healed by season’s end. However, a summer of additional rehab has the shoulders stronger. Slater is ready for the season, which begins Saturday at home against Tampa Bay.

Slater committed to several exercises designed to strengthen the shoulders. It took that -- and a lot of ice to return to full health.

He didn’t like his time away. It’s no fun watching from the press box in a suit. Slater was determined to put the time to good use. He watched, from high above the ice, and got a different grasp on the Thrashers’ new system that provided so much trouble for much of the year.

“You never want to be injured but if you are, you have to take the positive from the negative,” he said.

Slater, who signed a one-year qualifying offer with the Thrashers in July, currently is centering the team’s fourth line with Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn.

“He’s a very easy guy to play with,” Boulton said. “He’s a high-energy guy. He hits a lot on the forecheck. He causes a lot of havoc out there, which causes a lot of turnovers. The line has proven a good fit for Slater’s style of play. He says he won’t be slowed by past injuries.

“I play a physical style of play. You are going to have injuries along with the way. As long as you can minimize those injuries, you’ll be fine. It’s just part of the game.”

Oystrick sent to Chicago

The Thrashers assigned defenseman Nathan Oystrick to the team’s AHL affiliate in Chicago. Oystrick cleared waivers Wednesday.