Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler
Blake Wheeler - Winnipeg Jets 2014.jpg
Wheeler with the Winnipeg Jets in 2014
Born (1986-08-31) August 31, 1986 (age 34)
Plymouth, Minnesota, U.S.
Height 6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
Weight 225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 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 player and captain of the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League (NHL). 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. After failing to come to terms on a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, he signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent.

Playing career

Amateur

Wheeler played with the University of Minnesota for his NCAA career.

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 play his senior year 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.

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]

Wheeler practicing with the Boston Bruins in November 2008. Wheeler signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins months earlier.

Professional

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] The Coyotes received a compensatory second-round pick as a result of his signing elsewhere. 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 pre-season, Blake added a visor to his helmet.[10]

Wheeler with the Jets in November 2013

On February 18, 2011, Wheeler, along with Mark Stuart, was traded by Boston to the Atlanta Thrashers for Boris Valábik 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 NHL lockout and in order to keep game shape, Wheeler signed in Europe with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in Germany on October 28, 2012.[11]

In July 2013, Wheeler avoided arbitration by signing a contract for six years, $33.6 million, which carried an annual cap hit of $5.6 million per season. He became the third-highest paid Jets player behind defensemen Tobias Enström and Dustin Byfuglien, and he was signed through to the 2018–19 season.[12] On August 31, 2016, Wheeler was named the new team captain of the Jets.[13] Wheeler was named to his first NHL All-Star game on January 10, 2018, for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game,[14] finished the regular season with a career best 91 points and lead the league in assists with 68, tied with Claude Giroux. On April 24, 2018, Wheeler was named a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.[15]

On September 4, 2018, Wheeler signed a five-year, $41.25 million contract extension with the Jets.[16]

Personal

Wheeler has been politically active on Twitter, often voicing his opposition to Donald Trump. Wheeler first voiced his opposition to Trump in 2017 after Trump said that athletes kneeling during the national anthem should be fired, with Wheeler supporting the First Amendment rights of athletes.[17] In February of 2018, he spoke in favor of gun control, saying that he would be scared to send his children to school in the United States due to the high frequency of school shootings, noting that Canadian gun laws are an advantage to having his family live in Canada during the school year.[18] Following Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election, Wheeler declared that he felt hopeful for the first time in a while, also stating that he was excited for his daughter to see a woman as vice president.[19]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Bold indicates led league

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2002–03 Breck School HS-MN 26 15 27 42
2003–04 Breck School HS-MN 27 39 50 89 34 3 6 5 11 0
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
2014–15 Winnipeg Jets NHL 79 26 35 61 73 4 1 0 1 2
2015–16 Winnipeg Jets NHL 82 26 52 78 49
2016–17 Winnipeg Jets NHL 82 26 48 74 47
2017–18 Winnipeg Jets NHL 81 23 68 91 52 17 3 18 21 10
2018–19 Winnipeg Jets NHL 82 20 71 91 60 6 1 4 5 6
2019–20 Winnipeg Jets NHL 71 22 43 65 37 4 0 1 1 5
NHL totals 931 264 497 761 609 52 6 28 34 29

International

Wheeler (left) with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and John Carlson in a ceremony for American-bound Olympians to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Both Carlson and Wheeler were members of Team USA in 2014.
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 OG 4th 6 0 1 1 2
2016 United States WCH 7th 3 0 1 1 0
Junior totals 7 2 0 2 6
Senior totals 16 2 5 7 8

Awards and honors

References

  1. ^ "WCHA Final Five: Gophers Win, Wheeler Hat Trick". WCCO-TV. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  2. ^ "Wheeler's 2007 Final Five game winning goal". YouTube. April 5, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2007.
  3. ^ "Blake Wheeler Goal Makes ESPN's Top 10 Plays". GopherSports.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  4. ^ "Gophers Defeat N.D. In OT, 3-2". WCCO-TV. Archived from the original on March 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  5. ^ "Former Coyotes draft pick Blake Wheeler elects for free agency". NHL.com. Archived from the original on May 16, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2008.
  6. ^ "Boston Bruins Sign Forward Blake Wheeler". NHL.com. Archived from the original on April 29, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  7. ^ "Game Boxscore: Boston @ Colorado - 10/09/2008". NHL.com. October 9, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  8. ^ "Game Boxscore: Toronto @ Boston - 11/06/2008". NHL.com. November 6, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  9. ^ "Bruins' Blake Wheeler MVP of YoungStars Game". Boston Globe. January 25, 2009. Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  10. ^ Shinzawa, Fluto (September 29, 2009). "They could be fully loaded". The Boston Globe.
  11. ^ "Red Bull commit to NHL star Blake Wheeler" (in German). EHC München. October 28, 2012. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  12. ^ "Blake Wheeler signs 6-year $33.6MM deal to remain with the Winnipeg Jets". articicehockey.com. July 26, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  13. ^ Campbell, Tim (November 19, 2017). "Wheeler makes impact as Jets captain". NHL.com. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Pair of Jets named to 2018 NHL All-Star Game". NHL.com. Winnipeg Jets. January 10, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  15. ^ "Wheeler named finalist for Messier Award". NHL.com. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  16. ^ "Jets sign Blake Wheeler to a five-year contract extension". NHL.com. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  17. ^ "Jets captain Blake Wheeler calls out Donald Trump on Twitter - Sportsnet.ca". www.sportsnet.ca. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "Jets' Wheeler challenges Trump on gun control". winnipegsun. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  19. ^ Staff, BarDown (November 7, 2020). "Blake Wheeler shares heartfelt message of hope following Biden's projection to win - Article". BARDOWN. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  20. ^ "WCHA Tourney History". WCHA. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jordan Parise
WCHA Most Valuable Player in Tournament
2007
Succeeded by
Alex Kangas
Preceded by
Ben Eager
Phoenix Coyotes first round draft pick
2004
Succeeded by
Martin Hanzal
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Andrew Ladd
Winnipeg Jets captains
2016–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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