Jets sniper Blake Wheeler takes game to higher level

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save as Jets winger Blake Wheeler jumps in front of the...

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save as Jets winger Blake Wheeler jumps in front of the net during third period in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The evolution of Blake Wheeler has taken another important turn.

The 6-foot-5 right-winger is no longer simply showing flashes of the player many thought he could blossom into when he was chosen fifth overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

He's a bona fide go-to guy for the Winnipeg Jets.

There aren't many players his size who can skate the way that Wheeler can.

If you don't want to take my word for it, perhaps you should cue up the goal Wheeler scored on Saturday night when he caught Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Cody Franson flat-footed at the blue-line and essentially made him look like a pylon before cruising in and beating James Reimer through the five-hole.

Wheeler, a 27-year-old from Robbinsdale, Minn., isn't going to be confused for a bruiser, but he's taking the body with more regularity (with 95 hits on the season) and he's added 41 blocked shots as he rounds out his game.


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