Coach Rick Bowness dragged his players over the coals after the Winnipeg Jets were defeated by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the NHL. Later, Bowness was slammed by former captain Blake Wheeler for publicly criticizing his players. Wheeler implied that Bowness had lied and that his remarks would have been more well-received if he had said them in private.
There are more indications that Wheeler’s time in Winnipeg is not going well.
A further setback for the seasoned forward who was demoted from captaincy before the season began, Wheeler has been identified by Jacob Stroller of The Hockey News as a potential buyout candidate for the Jets. Even though Wheeler stands out among the competition given that he just finished a 55-point campaign, many Winnipeggers believe he has outstayed his welcome.
Since the Jets’ postseason elimination, there have been rumors of big team changes, and the fact that the Jets tried to sell Wheeler last summer but were unsuccessful because they wouldn’t take a piece of his $8.25 million salary could result in a buyout.
Here’s what Stroller says:
“Buying Wheeler out would turn the page on this long-standing core and count $2.75 million against the cap for the next two seasons. That may sound steep, mainly for next year, where Wheeler was never slated to be off the books. But it does spread out the financial burden across two years, and the Jets save $5.5 million in this upcoming season for a potential all-in run if goalie Connor Hellebuyck explores free agency after next season.”
Wheeler, who has played for the Jets since the team’s inception, would take the biggest hit from this, but if a trade does not materialize, this could be his chance for a fresh opportunity and a change of scenery. The former captain’s sole choice might then be a buyout.