Sometimes it is hard to review a player’s past season without looking back at who they used to be as a player. Blake Wheeler is one of those players. A few seasons ago he was one of the best left wingers in the NHL. Now he is one of the most overpaid players. So what got Wheeler and the Jets to this place? Age. Blake Wheeler is 35 years old now and no matter how many articles were written about him defying Father Time, at some point Father Time hits every single player.
Now, Blake Wheeler is not a bad player, he is an overpaid player and there is a difference. Wheeler still produced 40 even strength points including 14 goals. He had 60 points total. He is not a bad player, but he is also not worth the contract he signed when he was coming off of a 91 point season at age 31. He followed that up with an 89 point season and then the drop offs started. They were predictable and therefore not unexpected. The issue was Wheeler had gotten his big payday after he had reached his peak and there was only one way for him to go. That is the biggest issue with him as a player.
The other issue is something that has been bubbling under the surface and seems to have mostly been taken care of with certain coaches leaving the fold aka the entire coaching staff changing. Wheeler held far too much power when it came to lineup decisions even when the lineup was not working and the Jets were not winning and struggling to score. No player should have that amount of sway.
In short, Blake Wheeler had a fine season. He is open to as much criticism as he gets because of his contract, decline in play, and the amount of power he has; not because he’s a bad player. It’s a weird place for Wheeler to be in, but the Jets might be a worse team without his scoring. If they want to be a worse team, it would make sense to trade him. If they want to keep trying to make the playoffs, he probably helps them more than anything.