Wheeler on road to deal with Jets

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:00 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Andrew Ladd might not be the only Winnipeg Jet coming off the restricted free agent market.

On Tuesday afternoon, it became apparent fellow forward Blake Wheeler and the Jets are making progress on a new deal as well.

The 25-year-old right-winger has arbitration rights and his agent Matt Keator filed prior to Tuesdays 4 p.m. deadline.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is encouraged by the nature of the negotiations.

We had great conversations with his representative (Tuesday) and those will be ongoing, said Cheveldayoff. The fact he filed for salary arbitration doesnt mean much at this time. We have a lot of time to get a deal done.

The Wheeler camp feels the same way.

Looking at all scenarios, Keator said in a text message, when asked if a long-term extension or a one-year deal was more likely. Still have more talking to do, but off to a good start.

Wheeler, once a first round pick (fifth overall in 2004) of the Phoenix Coyotes, was acquired in a deal with the Boston Bruins that also brought defenceman Mark Stuart back for Rich Peverley and minor-league defenceman Boris Valabik, had 11 goals and 27 points in Boston and added seven goals and 17 points in 23 games with the Atlanta Thrashers.

He came into the organization late in the year and he kind of had two different seasons from a statistical standpoint, said Cheveldayoff, who was asked if Wheeler projects to be a Top-6 forward. For me, its really all about creating our own identity with this group of guys and letting (head coach) Claude (Noel) deciding where they fit and who they fit with. With the roster still evolving, you just dont know who is going to fall into place at this time.


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