He won’t be earning the nickname “The Incredible Bulk” quite yet, but 6-foot-5 Boston Bruins winger Blake Wheeler accomplished his goal of putting on weight this summer — the good kind of weight that is.
The newly buff Wheeler, who should check into next week’s training camp at 225 instead of last year’s 215, skated with a dozen of his current and possible future teammates today at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., during an informal captains’ practice. Wheeler was the victim of rookie burnout a couple times last season, an affliction that cost him a healthy scratch in March and then relegated him to the press box in the second half of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With his healthy but heavily scheduled (at least two lunches) diet fueling his offseason workouts, Wheeler hopes to avoid having his body be a detriment during his second pro season.
Offseason tidbit: Sorry, girls. Wheeler got engaged to his longtime girlfriend this summer and plans to get married next July.
Position battle: If you go by how last season ended, Wheeler would be the 13th forward. But don’t expect him to be battling for fourth-line minutes because his offensive skill set is just too important to the Bruins, especially without Phil Kessel and David Krejci around to start the season. The Marco Sturm return means that Wheeler might be back on his natural right side, but he could fit in anywhere among the top six wingers.
Projection: As studious as they come, Wheeler should be able to find the high level of play he reached during the better part of last season and avoid the physical pitfalls that kept him from hanging in the Calder Trophy race. Surpassing his 45-point performance of last season should be a given.