Free agency was fun this year, as the New York Rangers went bargain bin hunting. Landing in New York was none other than former Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler. Wheeler’s age has concerned a lot of fans that this is a team that is just getting older as it continues to add aging veterans to its roster. While this is a genuine fear and there is justification for it, Wheeler’s entire deal can be buried so that’s not a problem.
With the Winnipeg Jets last season, Wheeler tallied 16 goals and 39 helpers for 55 points in 72 games. There’s clearly offense still there with the Plymouth, Minnesota native. He’s going to produce and when he’s going to be on a line with either Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad or Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, there’s going to be a supporting cast to help him put up similar numbers as to what he was doing last year in the frozen tundra of Winnipeg.
Despite being on the older side, the production shouldn’t be an issue and Wheeler will bring more to the team than just goals and assists. As I mentioned, he is the former captain of the Winnipeg Jets, meaning that he has experience in a leadership role and having veterans who can help guide kids and younger players through the down times and rough patches of a season while continuing to make sure the room is focuses during the highs, you will find team success.
Where Wheeler leaves something to be desired is in the form of his back checking. Defensively, Wheeler has been an adventure for years. He’s not going to help the Rangers a ton in that respect, but to say that he will not help the team is just a lie. While he isn’t going to quite match the production of a Vladimir Tarasenko, he’s more than an upgrade on who the Blueshirts had to start last season in Vitali Kravtsov.