Blake Wheeler went into this summer with some options available to him as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He could have simply gotten a short-term deal out of the Winnipeg Jets and then tested his luck on the open market.
That wasn’t what he wanted though and he was more than happy to ink a six-year, $33.6 million deal with Winnipeg.
“For me, it was virtually a no-brainer,” Wheeler said, according to the Winnipeg Sun. “I sat down with my agent, Matt Keator, in the spring and we had the discussion. He asked ‘what do you want to do? I have no problem being the guy to get you to UFA if that’s where your heart is, if you don’t want to be where you are.’
“I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘this is where I want to be.’”
Winnipeg has certainly been a good fit for the 26-year-old forward. Since the Boston Bruins dealt him, Wheeler has been averaging around 19 minutes per game and has rewarded the Jets for their trust.
Wheeler scored 17 goals and a career-high 64 points in 2011-12. He followed that up with another 19 goals and 22 assists in 48 contests last season.
The Jets are still looking to make the playoffs for the first time since relocating, but they have been assembling the core that they think can accomplish that. Wheeler joins Evander Kane, Bryan Little, and defenseman Tobias Enstrom as the Winnipeg players that are locked up through at least 2017-18.