After serving on the Winnipeg Jets for 12 seasons, Blake Wheeler's time with the hockey team is ending.
The Winnipeg Jets announced today that they have placed Blake Wheeler on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract.
"We would like to thank Blake for his dedication and service to the Jets, the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba," says Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. "We are incredibly grateful for the contributions that he has made during his 12 seasons with the franchise. Most notably, the seven years when he served as the captain of the Jets and helped lead the team to the 2018 Western Conference Final."
The franchise leader in games, assists, and points, Wheeler has been with the organization since 2011, coinciding with the relocation to Winnipeg from Atlanta. He served as captain from 2016 through 2022, playing without a letter on his chest this past campaign.
Wheeler is leaving the Winnipeg Jets as the franchise leader in regular seasons played (897), points (812) assists (550), and shots (2,462), while his 262 goals are the third-most in franchise history. He holds franchise records for playoff assists (30) and points (39) and is tied with Adam Lowry for the most playoff games with 44.
Your leadership, skill, and dedication to Winnipeg will forever leave an impact on our community.— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) June 30, 2023
Thank you, Wheels. pic.twitter.com/Skqlk9FmeY
Wheeler also holds the franchise record for assists in a season with 71 in 2018-19 and he led the NHL in assists with 68 in 2017-18. He played in the 2018 and 2019 NHL All-Star Games and was named an NHL Second Team All-Star in 2017-18.
In 1,118 career NHL games played, Wheeler has 312 goals and 922 points.
"It has been an absolute honour and privilege to be a Winnipeg Jet," says Wheeler in a Twitter post. "My family and I can't thank you guys enough for everything that you've done for us, all the support, all the love, all the friendship. Winnipeg is always going to be a home to us."
The 36-year-old hockey player had one year left in his contract at a cap hit of $8.25 million. The buyout covers $5.5 million in cap space for the Jets in the next season, which leaves a cap charge of $2.75 million for the 2024-25 season.
The Winnipeg Jets are going through a complete restructure; this news of buying out Wheeler comes just days after the franchise completed a sign-and-trade with Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings.
Winnipeg acquired forwards Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and Gabriel Vilardi, as well as a 2024 second-round pick in their deal for Dubois.