As the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore has reported, Eric Boulton has come to terms on a one-year contract with the Thrashers, joining Jim Slater as the longest tenured Thrashers with both players having been with the team since the start of the 2005-06 season. Slater may have seniority on a technicality since he’s been in the organization since he was drafted in 2002, but somehow I don’t see him arguing the point with Boults.
Some may wonder why a player like Boulton who has made a career out of being an enforcer was brought back when there already seems to be a full slate of forwards, many of who are of the sandpaper variety, and that’s a valid question. Well, Rick Dudley has been saying since he took over as GM that he wanted the Thrashers to be big, tough to play against, and full of character. If those three qualities don’t describe Eric Boulton I don’t know who they describe.
Boulton is a heart and soul player who is gritty on the ice and a locker room favorite off of it. He’s a joker but at the same time he’s a vocal presence in a young room who isn’t afraid to ask for more out of his teammates. In a transition year filled with new players and new coaches Boulton could end up being a stabilizing factor.
At this point in the offseason a GM’s goal is often to assemble as many quality players as possible and then sort out the roster in training camp. Yes, the Thrashers have an abundance of grit and leadership to fill out the third and fourth lines. Given how easy this team has been to play against at various times over the years that shouldn’t be seen as a problem.
I think you’d have a hard time finding a single roster player who isn’t happy to have the franchise leader in penalty minutes back in the fold.