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  • Trade Target- #10: Blake Wheeler


    If there are three guys I didn't see coming this season, they were Nino, Granlund, and Erik Haula. Granlund was widely heralded coming into last season, and was a let down. This season he was who we thought he was. Haula and Nino, on the other hand, were very surprising (to me at least). Nino has a #sillyhard shot, as well as some legs, and Haula is the speediest guy on the ice (perhaps other than Kreider).

    Maybe most importantly, he is ONE OF US, being born in Plymouth and raised in Robbinsdale. He later was a Gopher, earning 96 points in 155 games.

    Under Wheeler's Hood

    Wheeler brings a lot of good things to his game: he's big and knows how to use his size offensively. He has a good shot, and generates points pretty consistently. Arctic Ice Hockey notes that Wheeler is stellar on both the power play as well as on the penalty kill, so he gives the Wild options on special teams as well.

    Much like my honorable mention, Andrew Ladd, Wheeler exhibits an ability to score with wrist shots, snap shots, wrap arounds, tap ins, etc. He provides flexibility, which arms the Wild to face multiple opponents. He possess greater speed than Ladd, meaning he can where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Furthermore, Wheeler is naturally a right winger, a position the Wild are not especially deep at, only having 3 players on the roster who have played in the NHL.

    The downsides to Wheeler are similar to Ladd as well, namely that he doesn't necessarily bring anything to the Wild that they don't already have. His tools all already exist within the Wild. Adding Wheeler is a depth move rather than a franchise-altering move.

    Why Blake Would Leave The Jets

    This will not likely be an easy trade to make. Wheeler (again like Ladd) has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, which runs till 2019 at 5.6 Million. This is not a massive cap hit, but nor is it insignificant. Wheeler is someone who could easily play on the Wild's top-2 lines.

    As for why Blake himself would choose to waive his NTC, that should be obvious. Who doesn't want to come to Minnesota? In all seriousness, Blake was born and raised in the cities, as well as attending college there. A chance to play professional hockey in his hometown likely has allure. Furthermore, The Wild are far closer to challenging for a cup than Winnipeg. Wheeler is approaching 30, and his contact goes till he is 35, when players tend to drop off.

    Why Do the Wild Want Wheeler?

    As stated above: Wheeler does not necessarily bring something new to the Wild. What he does bring is experience and proven consistency. He produces regularly, and he knows how to be a leader. The Wild are in a great place to challenge for a cup in the next 2-3 years, and Wheeler provides them a player than needs no development, and there is no question about what he can or will be (as there is with Coyle, Nino, and Haula). While grabbing Wheeler may cost the Wild a piece or a pick, he also is ready to go right now and the Wild will not have to wait for him.

    As for where Wheeler would fit: think of him as a fully-developed Nino Niederreiter. Personally, I like the Coyle-Koivu-Nino line, and I would also like a Coyle-Koivu-Wheeler line. Alternatively, a Parise-Koivu-Wheeler line could be scary, as would a Wheeler-Koivu-Nino line.

    Something else Wheeler does for the Wild is free up someone who doesn't necessarily score full-out to play a shut-down winger role. Alternatively, Wheeler playing with Haula and McCormick could provide size and scoring punch to a third line.

    In short, Wheeler adds a piece which allows the Wild to roll with 3 lines that can score. Wheeler takes some of the pressure of the Wild's current veterans, and allows Yeo to spread ice time amongst players more. There are certainly players who would help the Wild more, but Wheeler is a good player who can add a lot to the team Minnesota currently has.

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