Blake Wheeler Nine Years Later

Blake Wheeler — 

Blake Wheeler played this past season in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jets.

Position: RW      Shoots: Right

DOB: Aug.31,1986

Height: 6’5     Weight: 205

Selected by: Phoenix   Round: 1st   Overall: 5th   Year: 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Nine Years Later

I will be continuing my prospect analysis today with Winnipeg Jets player Blake Wheeler.  I like to pick a current prospect or roster player on one of my favorite teams and look back at  their post draft projections.  The projections are based on their amateur careers and draft position.  One of my favorite websites for this sort of thing is Hockey’s Future.  Blake Wheeler has played the last two seasons for the Winnipeg Jets.  Last season he posted 19 goals, 22 assists for a total of 41 points along with 28 PIM and a plus/minus rating of -3 in 48 games regular season games.  Let’s see what the guys at Hockey’s Future said.


Blake Wheeler Is Now A Five Year Pro

Blake Wheeler was basically drafted because of a 45 goal, 55 assist, 100 point season in 30 games in Minnesota High School.  After one season in the USHL, three years at the University of Minnesota and five years in the NHL, he has never come close to being a point per game player.  I find it particularly puzzling that in college his numbers were very ordinary for such a highly touted player. His skill-set is undeniable.  He can skate, shoot and handle the puck but to select him 5th overall in 2004 was deemed to be a bit of a stretch in the eyes of many hockey observers.

Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler

I am going to forget about Blake Wheeler’s pre-Winnipeg Jets years and base my evaluation on what I’ve witnessed over the past two seasons in the Great White North.  Like I said, his skill-set is undeniable and he has the ability to be electrifying … at times.

That is my biggest concern about Blake Wheeler. In the past, he has been very inconsistent and as a Winnipeg Jet there is times he leaves me wanting more.  It might be taking Blake Wheeler a little longer to get to where his potential is suppose to be and I hate using the word potential on a twenty-six year old but it is was it is.

I think his best two years as a professional have been as a Winnipeg Jet and he might be finally reaching his projected potential.  The only major fault I find with him is his lack of consistent physical play.  I call this the “big-ice” syndrome.  While his line-mates Ladd and Little played junior hockey in the CHL, Wheeler played in the NCAA on the bigger rink and used a speed game more than the grinding game most CHL’ers play.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!  His transition from the college game to the pro-game has been a little slower than some of his contemporaries but he has shown he can play the physical grinding game needed to succeed in the NHL.  I’ve been scolded on twitter for mentioning the Western Conference is bigger and I’ve been reminded that the Jets are one of the biggest teams in the NHL.  Yes the Jets have a very tall team.  🙂

The biggest question I get from fans about Blake Wheeler is “has reached his ceiling” or is he now “what you see is what you get” or is he capable of reaching another level?  Because I always feel he has more to give, I’m going to go with the latter.  Why you might ask?

1. Even though he was drafted nine years ago, he is still relatively young in hockey years as he is just finishing his fifth pro season.

2. Winnipeg is his first team where he is considered a “go to” guy.

3. He has signed a new long-term contract that gives him security and the ability to concentrate on hockey only.

4. He will be going into his third full season with his current line-mates.  They have developed an uncanny chemistry for three such diverse players.

5. I think he’s actually happy to be a Winnipeg Jet and wants to show the fans and management he was a good signing.

Blake Wheeler is the Winnipeg Jets best right winger and I think he is adapting to the role of playing big meaningful minutes against top opposition in key situations.  I really believe he has a “point per game” skill-set and he’ll get there if he shoots a little more and grinds a little more.  AND no more fly-by’s on the forecheck.

    From Hockey’s Future


In conclusion, Blake Wheeler is no longer a prospect or a player with potential.  He is a bonafide “top six” winger.  I really feel that Blake Wheeler can be a difference maker and the ball is in his court.  He showed me something last season that I can’t quite put my finger on.  There was a fire in his eyes at times that leads me to believe he’s ready to take the next step and make the Winnipeg Jets relevant.  That step is sitting there right in front of him and all he has to do is take it.           

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