The Bruins announced today that Blake Wheeler has signed on the dotted line of his one-year, $2.2 million salary arbitration award.
Wheeler addressed the media in a conference call earlier today and expressed his excitement about staying in Boston, saying "I'm really excited to be back in Boston for another season. It's been a long process, but we're both very excited (my agent Matt [Keator] and I) are both very excited to get a deal in place to be back in Boston. I would like to thank the Jacobs family, and also Peter Chiarelli, and the entire Bruins organization. At the end of the day, I think it was very fair on both ends. So, now it is all about business and getting back to the right spot for the Bruins organization."
Wheeler noted that Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins handled the arbitration hearing with professionalism, "It was handled extremely professionally. There was nothing that was said in the room that I didn't already know myself. There were no low blows or anything like that taken by either side. It was handled extremely well. Obviously, when the hearing was over, I felt great about it."
A lighter moment occurred during today's media conference call. When asked about what aspects of his game Wheeler needed to improve upon, Wheeler paused due to some background noise, saying "Sorry there was a big semi truck that just went by me". Apparently, that was not a tactic to dodge the question as he went into detail about the areas where he wants to improve. According to Wheeler, he needs to "be more physical, more of a presence". Wheeler added, "If I can assert myself more physically, especially on the forecheck, it's going to create a lot more opportunity for myself and the guys that I'm playing with to get more offensive opportunities."
The signing of Blake Wheeler now puts the Bruins over the salary cap for the moment, but they will have until the start of the regular season to get under the cap (as long as they don't exceed the salary cap ceiling by more than 10%). The B's still need to sign first round pick Tyler Seguin before the start of the season. The Bruins should get some cap relief when they place Marco Sturm on the Long-Term Injured Reserve, but will most likely need to make some other moves to free up cap space before the start of the season.