While the right-wing slot was an issue for the iconic blueshirts, they have done what they can address the issue by signing the former Winnipeg Jets captain to a one-year deal and bringing him to the Big Apple. Worth $800,000 against the cap with a potential $300,000 more, this is a low-risk deal that has the chance to return a big reward. Wheeler’s got some flaws, but he offers a lot for a player of his quality.
Wheeler will be 37 when the season starts, so adding a veteran to a forward core that already has a ton of aging players. Perhaps he isn’t an ideal replacement for some of the speed that came off the books at the end of the year. If he is a good fit under Peter Laviolette and in this lineup, then he’s a very strong candidate for one of the best value contracts in the entire league.
Last season on the middling Winnipeg Jets, Wheeler tallied 16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points in 72 games. He can certainly contribute. While he is perhaps not the kind of player that is going to inject speed into the lineup to overcome the New Jersey Devils or Carolina Hurricanes, a playoff series against Tampa Bay, Boston or Toronto will likely see him become an efficient piece for the Blueshirts.
In 1118 career NHL games, Wheeler has 312 goals and 610 assists for 922 points. There’s a chance he reaches 1000 career NHL points in the iconic Blueshirt on Broadway. He’s been someone that has added a lot to the lineups he has been in over the years and it has the feeling of a situation where Wheeler can help produce while protecting players like Kaapo Kakko who aren’t ready for bigger roles or are bad fits.
Wheeler also brings a lot off the ice. As the former Winnipeg captain, he can help lead a team that has a lot of young players on it. There’s no denying that the Rangers seemed to respond to Trouba’s big hits, but if Wheeler can get the team going in the dressing room, we could all be a lot happier given the issues the team had getting going. This is a low-risk contract that has a possibility of major reward.