- Ryan S. Clark is an NHL reporter for ESPN.
It didn’t take long for Blake Wheeler to find a new home as the veteran forward is set to join the New York Rangers.
Wheeler agreed to a one-year contract on Saturday with sources telling ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that the deal is worth $800,000 while including up to $300,000 in bonuses.
Signing with the Rangers comes less than a day after the 36-year-old Wheeler was placed on unconditional waivers by the Winnipeg Jets for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract. Wheeler, who was set to earn $8.25 million in his final season, will cost the Jets $2.75 million for the next two seasons.
Getting Wheeler gives the Rangers an experienced top-six winger who can create for himself and his teammates. Wheeler finished with 16 goals and 55 points last season for his 10th campaign of more than 50 points. He also provides the Rangers with another power-play option as his seven goals were fourth on the Jets.
His future with the Jets had been in question for some time, having been stripped of his captaincy prior to the start of the season. The Jets, who missed the playoffs in 2021-22, got back into the playoffs last season only to be eliminated in the first round by the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
Being knocked out in the first and/or qualifying round for the third time in five seasons led to more questions being asked about what appeared to be a stagnant core. Those concerns intensified even more considering Wheeler, along with Connor Hellebuyck, Nino Niederreiter and Mark Scheifele, each had one year left on their contract.
Wheeler played two plus seasons with the Boston Bruins before he was traded to what was then the Atlanta Thrashers. Wheeler was with the team when they relocated to Winnipeg and would ultimately spend 13 years between the two franchises. His time with the Jets saw Wheeler finish with 262 goals and 812 points in 897 games.
Parting ways with Wheeler was the latest entry in a busy offseason for the Jets. The first move came Tuesday when they completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Los Angeles Kings which saw Pierre-Luc Dubois head to Southern California in exchange for Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, Gabriel Vilardi and a 2024 second-round pick. Dubois signed an eight-year deal with the Kings worth $8.5 million annually.
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