Blake Wheeler is rare Rangers free agency deal: ‘Win the Cup’

It appears that every year, significant free agents sign up to play for Tampa Bay for less than they charge to play in Toronto. It seems that not all players are willing to do just that to join Rangers, no matter how deeply they consider donning the Original Six jersey…

Wayne Gretzky did it in 1996. Brendan Shanahan did it in 2006. Yes, Artemy Panarin took a little less in 2019, but when the eight-digit number on the bottom line begins with “11,” as in “$11,642,843,” that decision requires a star. .

There has never been a free-agent cycle in which it would have been more important for a big free agent to take a waiver to come to a city with the league’s highest tax rates and cost of living than this one.

Lo and behold, Blake Wheeler has been signed as a free agent for the first time in his 15-year career after Winnipeg bought him out last season to a five-year contract for $8.25 million. The winger – who posted 55 points (16-39) – had several offers for multi-year deals.

Instead, Wheeler, who will turn 37 in August. It took little time for New York to arrive on a one-year, 35-plus deal for 21, an $800,000 cap hit and a potential bonus package of up to $300,000. He came to New York with little money because…

“Blake wants to win the Cup, and he believes this is the right place for him,” agent Matt Keeter, who also represents fellow Blueshirts Chris Kreider and Adam Fox, told Slap Shots. Chris [Drury] Took care of my business deadline work this week. It won’t fare better than this.”

That attitude is exactly what you want, and it’s what the Rangers need.


Blake Wheeler signed a free-agent contract with the Rangers.
NHLI via Getty Images

Incoming head coach Peter Laviolette will have several options for the Minnesota native, who could fit into any of the Blueshirts’ top three centers of Mika Zibenjad, Philip Chytil and Vincent Trochek. It will be interesting to see this coach put his spin on things with a veteran group that adds a wealth of experience to Wheeler, who was Jacob Trouba’s captain for three years in Winnipeg during his six-year stint wearing the “C”. Wheeler’s effect should extend beyond the ice.

Now listen The Rangers did not sign 30-year-old Jaromir Jagr. They also did not sign 27-year-old Blake Wheeler. We all know that. But there is significant value in this addition that could become the most cost-effective signing of this cycle.

When was the last time anyone said that about the Rangers and free agency?


Are the Devils thinking about Anaheim goaltender John Gibson, who has informed GM Pat Verbeek that he doesn’t want to undergo another rebuild, but also hasn’t issued an ultimatum?

Why, yes, sources tell us, that is exactly what New Jersey is doing as they consider whether the Vitek Vanacek-Akira Schmid tandem could lead them to the promised land coming from a division that includes Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin is in a league of his own. Which Edin Hill’s team won the cup.


Interests between the Islanders and Scott Mayfield (and their agent Keeter) aligned when GM Lou Lamoriello placed the defenseman’s cap hit at $3.5 million, while No. 24 brought home a cool $24.5 million on a seven-year contract.


island
Scott Mayfield
Paul J. beersville

Jaro Halak, Brian Elliott, Martin Jones and Thomas Griese are looking for jobs as backups, with Elliott probably going to Toronto.

Wait a second. Guess next season the Bruins’ second line will be James van Riemsdyk and Pavel Zacha, or was that a typographical error I read somewhere?

Guaranteed to happen: Julien Gauthier is leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in high-risk scoring opportunities.


I have absolutely no idea where Vlad Tarasenko is going with this.

Slap Shots was told the 31-year-old winger had penned a multi-year deal in the neighborhood of $5.5 million apiece, up to $6 million apiece, to move with Carolina amid four concrete offers from clubs in various stages of contention. Not only did he dismiss them all as inadequate, but then agent Paul Theophanes was sacked.

Yes, the Rangers’ deadline acquisition — who was almost criminally under-utilized against the Devils by then-head coach Gerard Gallant — badly wanted to stay in New York, but that was never a realistic prospect. He probably understood that he was not given a single offer before hitting the open market.

Not that Tarasenko has indicated he’ll play Broadway for an exorbitant discount on a one-year deal, and why would he? There was – or should not have been – any confusion about the direction of Rangers.

It was the worst year ever on the open market, still not. Looks like he’s aiming for 91 grand slam home runs, even if it’s been with a three-RBI, stand-up double with the competitive ‘Cain.

Offers will still exist for Tarasenko, who will now be represented by CAA’s Pat Brisson and JP Barrie. Once Ottawa moves Alex Debrincat, the Senators will likely become a key player. If Debrincat doesn’t go to the Islanders, expect Lamoriello to join if he can get rid of one or two cap obligations. Carolina won’t go out.


NHL
Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates a playoff goal with the Rangers in April.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Tarasenko is a good player and a good partner. Maybe he’ll still come forward, but this is probably the strangest free-agent scenario since Michael Nylander’s agent, Mike Gillis, agreed to a deal with the Oilers in 2007, only to turn down the center (apparently because family I had no one else) wanted to go with him to Edmonton) and wanted to sign a short agreement with Washington.

He’s recorded 316 goals and 744 points in 976 career games by the age of 32, but why does it still seem like Matt Duchenne has been perhaps the most disappointingly productive player in the NHL since Pierre Turgeon?

PS: Turgeon will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. Maybe there is hope.


Ultimately, Ryan Reeves for three years, and Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi both for one year each.

Tell me that Kyle Dubas is no longer the GM of the Maple Leafs without telling me that Kyle Dubas is no longer the GM of the Maple Leafs.

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