Believe it or not, there has been NHL news not involving Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.
And in fact, two particular bits of news might affect the Bruins and their efforts to get restricted free agent winger Blake Wheeler signed.
As of today, the Bruins and Wheeler’s camp are scheduled for an arbitration hearing July 27.
First, David Perron re-signed with St. Louis for two years at a cap hit of $2.15 season. The 22-year-old Perron is a tough comparable for Wheeler because after a solid junior career, Perron has already proven to be a dynamic offensive player with 27, 50 and 47 points in his first three NHL seasons, respectively.
The better comparable from today was Atlanta’s Clarke MacArthur, who was awarded $2.4 million by an arbiter. MacArthur, 25, posted 16-19-35 totals last year — like Wheeler, his second full NHL season. When MacArthur was honing his craft in the AHL and only getting a cup of coffee with Buffalo, Wheeler was still in college. In his first full NHL season in 2008-09, MacArthur put up 17-14-31 totals. It looks like Atlanta is going to walk away from the award and let MacArthur become an unrestricted free agent.
So to reiterate, the Bruins have to agree to terms with a soon-to-be-24-year-old Wheeler, who posted 45 and 38 points his first two years in the league in light of what some players of similar age and ability are now earning.
There’s no doubt Wheeler is looking at a minimum $2.5 million award. Remember, he was eligible to be farmed out and never spent a second in the AHL, and missed just one regular-season game in two seasons. You add the durability to the production, as inconsistent as that production was last season, and you have a player that’s going to muck up Boston’s cap situation even more once this deal is done. And it’s in the Bruins’ best interest to not let an arbiter make that mess worse than it has to be.