The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here. The Boston Bruins play tomorrow, but a former B’s player is starting his Cup campaign tonight.
The Winnipeg Jets are getting ready to kick off their 2018 playoff run tonight. Former Boston Bruins forward Blake Wheeler leads the Jets, who finished second in the Western Conference’s Central division. Wheeler looks to take the next step in his career, which has been solid since leaving Boston via trade.
The Phoenix Coyotes drafted Wheeler 5th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After being unable to agree to a contract with their first-rounder, Wheeler became a free agent on July 1, 2008, and signed with Boston. In two and a half seasons with the B’s, Wheeler recorded 110 points over 221 games.
On February 18, 2011, the Bruins traded Wheeler and Mark Stuart to the then Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. Peverley became a great addition for the eventual 2011 Stanley Cup Champions.
Wheeler didn’t get to enjoy the success of his former team. After the 2010-11 season, the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and became the Jets. Since then, Wheeler has been an integral player for the Jets. He orchestrated three 60 point seasons in his first four seasons in Winnipeg, before breaking out in 2015-16 with 78 points.
Wheeler is having by far and away his best year in the NHL this season. He led Winnipeg in points, and it wasn’t close. Wheeler had 91 points this season, which was good enough for 9th in the NHL. 19 year-old phenom Patrik Laine came in second on the team with 70.
Back in the playoffs for just the second time since the team moved to Winnipeg, Wheeler now captains the Jets. After missing out on Boston’s cup run in 2011, Wheeler will look to continue to carry Winnipeg deep into the playoffs.
The Jets begin their playoff campaign tonight in Winnipeg at 7 on CNBC. They’ll be taking on the Minnesota Wild, who finished third in the Central. Boston might stand in the way of Wheeler’s quest for the cup, as EA Sports NHL 18 predicts a Jets-Bruins Stanley Cup Final.