The Winnipeg Jets are one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the NHL and it’s easy to see why. They have youngsters like Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor, but none of those players scored more points last season than captain Blake Wheeler, who had 91 in 81 games. Now, the Jets are rewarding him with a huge payout.
Winnipeg has locked up the 32-year-old Wheeler with a five-year, $41.25 million extension ($8.25 million AAV). Wheeler was entering the final year of his contract. This new deal means he’s signed through the 2023-24 season. The deal also comes with a no-movement and modified no-trade clause.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston has the salary breakdown over the next five years:
Sure, it’s risky to a sign a player through his age-37 season, but it’s hard to ignore what Wheeler’s done over the last few years. He’s picked up at least 61 points in every year since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Last year, only eight players in the league picked up more points than he did. He also tied for the league lead in assists with 68 (Flyers forward Claude Giroux also had 68 assists but he reached that number in one more game).
According to The Point, Wheeler ranked first in power play assists, 33rd in power play pass completions and second in power play slot pass completions last season. Those numbers show just how good of a set-up man he is for his teammates.
Even with a 90-point season under his belt, it seems like Wheeler rarely grabs as many headlines as he deserves in the hockey community. Everyone knows how important he is to his organization, but others on the team seem to be thought of as more important on the ice.
This offseason, Scheifele mentioned that he felt his captain was underrated.
“I’d throw my linemate Blake Wheeler in the top five, he’s one of the most underrated players,” Scheifele told TSN. “His passing is next level by far, he’s a pretty special player to play with.”