No. 6: There were plenty of conventional unrestricted free agents set to become available last July 1, but the Boston Bruins’ first order of business was to ink one that hit the open market through a different route.
Forward Blake Wheeler, a three-year standout at the University of Minnesota, had made it clear that he was going to use a clause in the collective bargaining agreement to become a UFA July 1. From the time the spring semester ended until the week leading up to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, numerous NHL general managers attempted to woo the 6-foot-5, 208-pound former first-round pick (fifth overall in 2004) of the Phoenix Coyotes. Wheeler’s picking of the Bruins made a big enough impact to earn a place among the top 10 Bruins stories of the calendar year 2008. (more…)