Blake Wheeler signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Rangers.
Mark Lazerus: Last season, Blake Wheeler was a key part of the Canadian team with high expectations, earning $8.25 million this season. It didn’t end well for him or the Winnipeg Jets. But the beauty of redemption—once you get over the ego shock of being told you’re so unwanted the team will pay you to leave—is the freedom it provides. You don’t have to worry about cashing in on your next contract and can choose your destination.
So guards can add a veteran winger after just a few years of consecutive 91-point seasons at less than your average entry-level contract, and Wheeler will go to a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference where he can be a winger for mostly unknowns in the third line who proves unwashed. At the age of 36.
Wheeler, not exactly the fastest player in the league, does he have a thing? Well, he had 55 points in 72 games last season. This can be useful for special teams and provides some depth in scoring. What if he didn’t? It costs almost nothing in New York.
Interesting side note: does this prevent Rangers from bringing back Patrick Kane? It is believed that Kane desperately wants to return to New York. His hip surgery complicates things, but it might make Kane more willing to get a cheap short-term contract in an effort to prove he still gets it – like Wheeler just did.
Contract diploma: a
appropriate note: b +
The Jets buys the Wheeler contract
Shawn KindHere’s what everyone should remember coming out of BuyoutPalooza for the few days leading up to NHL free agency: A lot of these guys actually made a lot of money. The odds that at least a few of them would accept discount offers were good.
This is what we have in the case of Wheeler. The last deal he signed with Winnipeg was worth over $40 million. He will earn $2.75 million this season on acquisitions alone. Why not take up a little play where you want to play logically? So, of course, he ended up in New York.
Wheeler was an elite bubble player in his prime. Is it no longer there? of course not. At 36, it would be weird if he were. But as a complement – a right-wing midfielder with plenty of power – it’s more than enough. Wheeler’s passing ability is completely intact; He was 54th in the league in starts/60th last season.
Specifically, a masked competitor that needs an insulating layer for their current suite of wings, what’s not to love?
Contract diploma: a
appropriate note: a
(Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)