Time: 7:00 PM CST
Blake Wheeler is playing his 1000th NHL game tonight after being drafted fourth overall by the Arizona Coyotes, choosing not to sign with them and going to the Boston Bruins instead. After being traded for Rich Peverley, Wheeler took off with the Atlanta Thrashers and moved with the team to Winnipeg in 2011. After Ladd was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks (and subsequently signed with the New York Islanders) Wheeler took over as captain in the 2016 season.
Outside of this being Wheeler’s 1000th game, it is also the first time the Jets and the Toronto Maples Leafs are playing this season (at least in my world where days means nothing anymore). The Leafs have been playing some great hockey this season, so the Jets will have to be on their game tonight. They will hopefully be able to get there by trying to do the same things they did against the New Jersey Devils and not what they did against the Arizona Coyotes.
A little bit more on Wheeler’s play: he is probably still dealing with the after affects of COVID 19, but he has been bad this year. He can still contribute a bit to the team, but not to the same capacity that he did in previous seasons and that is starting to become incredibly apparent. However, Paul Maurice is too loyal and is using Wheeler like he is the player he was five years ago instead of the player he is today. It’s not only bad for the Jets, but it is bad for Wheeler because he is not being put in a position to succeed on the Jets.