Wheeler becomes 4th player from 2004 draft to reach 500 points

by 5d ago
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Wheeler's officially a member of the 500 club.

With two assists Sunday, the Jets captain now has 500 career points, joining Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and David Krejci as players from the 2004 draft class who have hit the mark. (Andrew Ladd, whom Wheeler replaced as Jets captain, will soon join them; he's at 493 career points.)

Wheeler was selected fifth overall by the then-Phoenix Coyotes, but never played a game with the club. He signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2008, but it's in Winnipeg that his career blossomed. He was acquired by the then-Atlanta Thrashers in a February 2011 trade, along with Mark Stuart, in a deal that sent Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik to Boston.

And it's safe to say both teams are happy with how the trade worked out. Wheeler traveled north to Winnipeg when the Jets were reborn for the 2011-12 season, and the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup. Peverley scored four goals - including two game-winners - and added eight assists in 25 playoff games, won 53 percent of his faceoffs, and played over 16 minutes a night on the run. He did his part and earned his ring.

Wheeler took off in his first full campaign in Winnipeg in his age 25 season, playing over 19 minutes a night and becoming a focal point of the Jets' offense. He's kept it up, and is today one of the more underrated stars in the NHL.

Season Team Points Per Game
2008-09 Bruins 0.56
2009-10 Bruins 0.46
2010-11 Bruins/Thrashers 0.54
2011-12 Jets 0.80
2012-13 Jets 0.85
2013-14 Jets 0.84
2014-15 Jets 0.77
2015-16 Jets 0.95
2016-17 Jets 0.82*

* 2016-17 stats don't include Sunday's statistics.

Wheeler's only become more consistent as he's aged. He's scored 20 or more goals in each of his last four seasons, and finished with 19 in 48 games in lockout-shortened 2012-13.

The only issue for Wheeler during his time in Winnipeg is the fact he's played just four postseason games with the club. He'll try to add to that total next year.

All in all, though, both teams certainly have no regrets with how things ended up. And that's nice, for a change, right?