Blake Wheeler’s arbitration date is set for Tuesday July 27th, 2010. During his tenure as the Bruins General Manager, Peter Chiarelli has only had one restricted free agent make it to arbitration. That player was David Tanabe, and Chiarelli walked away from the arbitrators awarded salary.
Some recent signings around the NHL could affect how Blake Wheeler and his agent feel Wheeler should be compensated for next season. No this has nothing to do with Ilya Kovalchuk (sorry guys) but rather David Perron and Clarke McArthur. Here is a breakdown of their numbers for the past two seasons and the contracts they signed/were awarded:
David Perron – 2 year deal $2.15 million cap hit
2009-2010 20 goals, 27 assists, -10
2008-2009 15 goals, 35 assists +13
Clarke MacArthur – Awarded one year $2.4 million
2009-2010 16 goals, 19 assists, -16
2008-2009 17 goals, 14 assists -4
Blake Wheeler – Restricted free agent with arbitration rights
2009-2010 18 goals, 20 assists, -4
2008-2009 21 goals, 24 assists, +36
It appears the Bruins like Wheeler and feel he has great potential. However, he is terribly inconsistent, constantly going offsides, and not too fond of using his big frame. Translation: His “compete level” is not always there. However, Wheeler does bring a two way game, is an above average penalty killer, and has good speed for his size.
Now the question lies, what should the Bruins do with Blake Wheeler? He has very similar numbers to both MacArthur and Perron, so expect Wheeler to be looking for at least $2.5 million. Should the Bruins try and negotiate a deal with Wheeler if he is looking in that salary range? Or should they make an arbitrator award Wheeler a salary, giving them the option of walking away from the potential outcome?