What do you get on your 30th birthday? In Blake Wheeler’s case he received the honor of becoming the second captain of the new Jets-era franchise history. Following former captain Andrew Ladd who got traded to the Blackhawks in February and signed with the Islanders earlier in the off-season on July 1st.
Wheeler was the fifth overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft when he got selected by the then Phoenix Coyotes, but never managed to agree on a contract with the desert team, even though he was offered the maximum entry-level contract. So, when the four draft rights years of the Coyotes were up, Wheeler chose to become a UFA (unrestricted free agent) and signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1st 2008.
Wheeler remained with the Bruins until he was traded to the then Atlanta Thrashers on February 18, 2011. Wheeler was traded together with Mark Stuart in return for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. One year later he signed a two-year $5.1 million deal after the Thrashers had moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets.
Which means he’s entering his 6th season with the Jets-franchise, now under a six year deal worth a total of $33.6 million which he signed in 2013. Serving as alternate captain last season, Wheeler now steps up as the captain of the team on his 30th birthday while getting Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele as alternate captains.