Blake Wheeler and the Boston Bruins held their scheduled salary arbitration hearing today to determine the value of the young winger. The Bruins were represented by GM Peter Chiarelli and Assistant GM Don Sweeney at Tuesday's hearing in Toronto, while Wheeler and his agent Matt Keator represented the Wheeler camp. The third-party arbitrator will now have 48 hours to determine a fair value for a one-year contract for Wheeler.
According to reports, both sides felt that the proceedings were conducted professionally:
"I think it was handled very professionally by both sides," said Matt Keator, Wheeler's agent. "Our interpretation of the marketplace is different from theirs, hence the disagreement. I think both sides handled it well, keeping it professionally. They pointed out Blake's shortcomings. We pointed out Blake's strengths. But Blake already knew his shortcomings. He knows what he needs to work on. There were no hurt feelings in what was said. It was not contentious at all."
- Matt Keator via Fluto Shinzawa on Boston.com
"I agree [with Keator] and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as these hearings are always very professional"
- Peter Chiarelli via James Murphy on ESPN Boston
While Blake Wheeler took a bit of a step back this season after a strong rookie campaign, it is undeniable that this young man has a great skill set and tremendous potential. I (like most B's fans) would like to see Wheeler become more of a complete player by using his big frame to his advantage and being more physical, getting to the dirty areas on the ice more, and minimizing mental lapses. That being said, I would like to see him learn these things with a Spoked-B on his chest. The consensus seems to be that Wheeler should earn somewhere in the $2.5 million range, which doesn't seem out of line when you consider the current market for NHL forwards. As Wheeler's agent pointed out, "these 6-foot-5 players who have 83 points over their first two seasons don't grow on trees."