Monday, July 8, 2013

Ian Slater signs with ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears 7/8

Center Ian Slater, who played 32 games for the Adirondack Phantoms last season as a rookie out of Western Michigan University, has signed an ECHL contract with the Orlando Solar Bears. Orlando announced the deal Monday.

Slater, a 25-year-old Florida native, recorded one assist and 73 penalty minutes with the Phantoms, who used him primarily on the fourth line. He also netted 7-3-10 and 77 penalty minutes in 31 ECHL games with Trenton.

Signing the contract does not necessarily guarantee Slater, who was an unrestricted free agent, will spend the season in Orlando. He is hopeful he might still secure an AHL or NHL contract before the season begins.

Minor-league contracts generally have out clauses, which allow contracted players to join higher-level professional teams if one should offer them a contract.

In a telephone interview Monday evening, Slater discussed the chance of playing in his home state.

"It’s definitely the first time in a long time if I am there," he said. "Getting the opportunity to play in Florida in front of family, in kind of my old stomping ground, would be a nice opportunity. Obviously I’d love to be at the next level as long as possible and compete at the highest level, but at the same time you have to be able to play and you have to put yourself in the best situation to be successful."

Signing an ECHL contract rather than an AHL contract has some benefits. Players who play well could get called up on a try-out basis to any AHL team, rather than just the one they signed with.

Phantoms center Rob Bordson, for example, signed an ECHL contract with the Trenton Titans in 2011-12 after he was traded to Los Angeles and became an free agent. Bordson got an eight-game call-up to the Rochester Americans before signing an AHL deal with the Phantoms later that season.

Last season, Jeff Dimmen had signed an ECHL contract with the Florida Everblades before he was invited to Adirondack's training camp. After an impressive showing, he signed with the Phantoms.

Slater, who underwent hip surgery shortly after the 2012-13 season ended, said he had not yet heard from the Phantoms regarding a new contract offer. He still has to go back and get cleared by the team's medical staff, he said. But he is still welcome to receiving offers from any AHL or NHL team.

"Obviously I’d love to be in Adirondack," Slater said in the brief telephone interview. "But you have to keep your options open and explore your possibilities."

Slater is not the first Phantoms player to sign with another team this summer.

Dimmen signed a contract with a team in Asia, while Scott Munroe signed with a team in Sweden.

At this point, Slater said he is still waiting to determine exactly what his possibilities are.

"You want to give yourself the best opportunity to be successful and prolong your career as long as you can," he said.


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