Thrashers, Boulton agree on one-year deal

Bolts is back.

Eric Boulton agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Thrashers on Tuesday. The forward, an unrestricted free agent, will earn $650,000 next season, his sixth in Atlanta.

“I’m very happy to stay,” Boulton said. “I really like the direction of the team, and I’m looking forward to living in Atlanta and winning in Atlanta.”

Boulton, 33, became a free agent July 1 and had expressed his desire to remain in Atlanta with his wife and four children. His wife, Ryan, is from Georgia and was a cheerleader at UGA.

“It’s very stressful for you and your family,” Boulton said of the free-agency process. “You don’t know if you’ll have a job or you’ll be moving and uprooting your family. This made a lot of sense for us.”

Boulton had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 62 games last season. He had a minus-1 rating, 10th best on the team among players who appeared in more than 20 games.

The Thrashers retained their player most willing to drop the gloves. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Boulton led the Thrashers, and tied for 24th in the NHL, with 13 fights last season. He amassed a team-high 113 penalty minutes.

The Thrashers have made major roster changes this offseason, adding forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Andrew Ladd and defenseman Brett Sopel from Stanley Cup winner Chicago and signing goaltender Chris Mason, who was an unrestricted free agent.

“I think we’ll be a lot different team next year,” Boulton said. “We will be a lot more responsible defensively. We’ll be bigger, stronger and a lot tougher to play against.”

In five seasons with the Thrashers, Boulton has 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists). Including four seasons in Buffalo, he has 63 NHL points (21 goals, 42 assists).

Boulton has remained in Atlanta during the offseason, training with forward Chris Thorburn.

“Now all I need is a new roommate,” joked Boulton, who pairs with Thorburn on the road.

Boulton is the second of 10 players from last season’s team who were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Forward Jim Slater re-signed in June. Colby Armstrong (Toronto), Johan Hedberg (New Jersey) and Pavel Kubina (Tampa Bay) signed elsewhere.