Analysis of the Jets new contract with Blake Wheeler, Canucks Alex Edler to have a hearing with the IIHF, calling upon the Oilers to re-sign young players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this summer, and MLSE boss Tim Leiweke defends the new contract of Leafs GM Dave Nonis.
TSN.CA: The Winnipeg Jets last night avoided salary arbitration with winger Blake Wheeler by signing him to a six-year, $33.6 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an average annual cap hit of $5.6 million for Wheeler, more than doubling the $2.55 million annual average salary of his previous contract. No word yet if it comes with a no-trade clause. It’s a steep raise, but one Jets management evidently feel is worthwhile to lock him up through his playing prime.
Wheeler, 26, has steadily developed into a scoring star with the Jets. He had a career-high 64 points in 2011-12 and had 41 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. As the 26-year-old Wheeler matures, he appears to be shaking off the inconsistency which dogged him earlier in his career.
His expensive new salary comes heightened expectations, which will place additional pressure upon his shoulders. Should Wheeler meet this challenge, he’ll be a key component in the Jets quest for playoff contention.
Wheeler’s new contract pushes the Jets payroll to over $58 million next season, with Zach Bogosian left to re-sign. Bogosian is slated for a salary arbitration hearing on August 2, but you can bet Jets management are working toward re-signing him before then.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler will have a hearing with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) disciplinary committee regarding an incident during this year’s World Championships, when he was suspended for a knee-on-knee hit on Canadian star Eric Staal. Edler was suspended two games for the hit, and the IIHF recommended a five-game ban, which could spill over into the Sochi Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the recommendation for a five-game ban holds up, Edler’s Olympic hopes for 2014 could be dashed.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recommends the Oilers re-sign youngsters Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry to long-term contract right now, believing they’ll get them under more affordable deals. The trio will be restricted free agents next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen if the Oilers follow Staples advice, but Nugent-Hopkins and Schultz won’t have arbitration rights, which gives the Oilers leverage in contract talks.
TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke defended the recent re-signing of Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis to a five-year contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leiweke seemed surprised by the reaction toward Nonis’ new contract, as more than a few pundits and Leafs bloggers have suggested Nonis hasn’t done much yet to justify such a generous extension. Time will tell if Leiweke’s faith is justified.