Blake Wheeler

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Blake Wheeler
Blake Wheeler - Winnipeg Jets.jpg
Wheeler as a member of the Winnipeg Jets in 2013.
Born (1986-08-31) August 31, 1986 (age 28)
Plymouth, MN, USA
Height 6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Winnipeg Jets
Boston Bruins
Atlanta Thrashers
EHC München
National team  United States
NHL Draft 5th overall, 2004
Phoenix Coyotes
Playing career 2008–present

Blake James Wheeler (born August 31, 1986) is an American professional ice hockey right winger for the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League. He was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Wheeler was born in Plymouth, Minnesota, but grew up in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Wheeler attended Breck School his freshman year through his junior year. There, during his junior year, Wheeler had his breakout season, putting up a state-high 45 goals and 55 assists in 2003–04. He led his team to a Class A State Hockey Championship that season, and scored a hat trick in the final game.

Wheeler opted to forego his senior year to play in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Green Bay Gamblers. After playing one season with the Gamblers, Wheeler attended the University of Minnesota. In 2005–06, his freshman year with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, he recorded 23 points in 39 games, playing alongside future Boston Bruins teammate Phil Kessel. Wheeler is praised for his deceptive speed with his large body frame, and his ability to stick handle at such high speeds.[by whom?]

In the 2007 WCHA Final Five tournament, Wheeler recorded a hat trick in a 4–2 win in the semifinal game against the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1] In the championship game, Wheeler scored the game-winning goal in a 3–2 overtime win against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.[2] The play was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter and quickly gained notoriety for its similarity to the game-winning goal in the 1979 NCAA Championship Game, scored by Minnesota's Neal Broten, also against North Dakota.[3] Wheeler was named the tournament MVP.[4]

Early in the 2007–08 season, following injuries to Ryan Stoa and Mike Howe, Wheeler was named an alternate captain for the Golden Gophers and recorded 35 points in 44 games. At the end of the season, four years after he was drafted, Wheeler had yet to come to a contract agreement with the Coyotes. Given the option, Wheeler elected to become an unrestricted free agent despite a maximum entry-level contract offer from the club.[5]

Boston Bruins[edit]

Wheeler with Boston Bruins in 2010.

After the Phoenix Coyotes were not able to come to terms with Wheeler, on July 1, 2008, Wheeler signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins.[6] On October 7, the Bruins made their final cuts for the 2008-09 season and Wheeler remained with the NHL club. Two days later, on October 9, Wheeler scored his first NHL goal, in his NHL debut, against goaltender Peter Budaj of the Colorado Avalanche.[7] Wheeler then collected his first NHL hat trick the next month on November 6, against the Toronto Maple Leafs.[8] Being named to the 2009 NHL YoungStars Game to represent the rookies, he earned Game MVP honors after a four-goal effort to beat the sophomores 9–5.[9]

After being hit by a puck in practice during the 2009 preseason, Blake added a visor to his helmet.[10]

Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets[edit]

On February 18, 2011, Wheeler, along with Mark Stuart, was traded by Boston to the Atlanta Thrashers for Boris Valabik and Rich Peverley. On July 18, 2011, Wheeler signed a two-year, $5.1 million deal after the Thrashers were relocated and renamed the Winnipeg Jets. In the inaugural 2011–12 season with the Jets, he led the team in scoring with a career-high 64 points in 80 games.

With the 2012–13 season delayed due to the Lockout and in order to keep game shape, Wheeler signed in Europe with EHC München of the German DEL on October 28, 2012.[11] In July 2013, Wheeler avoided arbitration by signing a contract for six years, $33.6 million, which is an annual cap hit of $5.6MM per season. He is now the second highest paid Winnipeg Jets player behind only Tobias Enstrom, and is signed through the 2018-2019 season.[12]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2004–05 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 58 19 28 47 43
2005–06 University of Minnesota WCHA 39 9 14 23 41
2006–07 University of Minnesota WCHA 44 18 20 38 42
2007–08 University of Minnesota WCHA 44 15 20 35 72
2008–09 Boston Bruins NHL 81 21 24 45 46 8 0 0 0 0
2009–10 Boston Bruins NHL 82 18 20 38 53 13 1 5 6 6
2010–11 Boston Bruins NHL 58 11 16 27 32
2010–11 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 23 7 10 17 14
2011–12 Winnipeg Jets NHL 80 17 47 64 55
2012–13 EHC München DEL 15 6 14 20 51
2012–13 Winnipeg Jets NHL 48 19 22 41 28
2013–14 Winnipeg Jets NHL 82 28 41 69 63
NHL totals 454 121 180 301 291 21 1 5 6 6

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2006 United States WJC 4th 7 2 0 2 6
2011 United States WC 8th 7 2 3 5 6
2014 United States Oly 4th 6 0 1 1 2
Junior totals 7 2 0 2 6
Senior totals 13 2 4 6 8

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Year
WCHA All-Tournament Team 2007 [13]
All-WCHA Third Team 2007–08
NHL YoungStars Game 2009
NHL YoungStars MVP 2009

References[edit]

  1. ^ "WCHA Final Five: Gophers Win, Wheeler Hat Trick". WCCO-TV. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  2. ^ "Wheeler's 2007 Final Five game winning goal". YouTube. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  3. ^ "Blake Wheeler Goal Makes ESPN's Top 10 Plays". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-07-29. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Gophers Defeat N.D. In OT, 3-2". WCCO-TV. Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  5. ^ "Former Coyotes draft pick Blake Wheeler elects for free agency". NHL.com. Retrieved 2008-05-29. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Boston Bruins Sign Forward Blake Wheeler". NHL.com. Retrieved 2008-07-01. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Game Boxscore: Boston @ Colorado - 10/09/2008". NHL.com. 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  8. ^ "Game Boxscore: Toronto @ Boston - 11/06/2008". NHL.com. 2008-109-09. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  9. ^ "Bruins' Blake Wheeler MVP of YoungStars Game". Boston Globe. 2009-01-25. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  10. ^ Shinzawa, Fluto (2009-09-29). "They could be fully loaded". The Boston Globe. 
  11. ^ "Red Bull commit to NHL star Blake Wheeler" (in German). EHC München. 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  12. ^ http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2013/7/26/4561902/winnipeg-jets-blake-wheeler-contract-free-agent-nhl Blake Wheeler signs 6-year $33.6MM deal to remain with the Winnipeg Jets
  13. ^ "WCHA Tourney History". WCHA. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jordan Parise
WCHA Most Valuable Player in Tournament
2007
Succeeded by
Alex Kangas
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ben Eager
Phoenix Coyotes first round draft pick
2004
Succeeded by
Martin Hanzal