When it comes to NHL players that are talked about year in and year out, it is usually the same bunch of names that come up every season.
All hockey fans seem to hear about are players like Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, all of these players are more than worthy of the attention they get, but it seems that more often than not, other great players rarely get mentioned.
One such player is Winnipeg Jets forward and team captain Blake Wheeler. For the last several seasons, Wheeler, 32, has been one of the best players in the league and yet, if you’re not a Jets fan, you hardly ever hear about him.
For starters, this guy is a point-producing machine. As of this writing, Wheeler leads the team with 27 points.
That’s right, folks. He has more points than other stars on his team including Mark Scheifele and Laine.
In 800 career games, Wheeler has 632 points. Since the 2011-12 season, he has averaged close to 70 points per season (68.2 per season to be exact).
Last season, Wheeler had a career-high 91 points in the regular season. He had an incredible 68 assists and in the postseason, he had 18 assists and 21 points in 17 games.
Secondly, Wheeler is a lot of fun to watch if you watch him closely. He clearly has great hands, a very underrated shot, deceptive speed, and with his size, he creates a lot of havoc in front of opposing goaltenders.
Speaking of his size, at 6’5” and 225 pounds, Wheeler is one of the game’s premier power forwards. He goes hard to net, is not afraid to go into the corners, is usually in a good position for second and third chances, and is pretty good at deflecting pucks on net.
Something else that is great about Wheeler is that he is consistent. Every season, he puts up a lot of points, is a big contributor on the power play, has a ton of assists and is usually either at the top or close to it in terms of leading his club in points.
Despite all of these things, no one talks about him. There are probably a few reasons for this.
One reason is that the league clearly likes to focus on certain teams throughout the season. Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and many others not named the Jets all get a ton of coverage every single season.
The other reason is that he is not a marquee name. That title belongs to players like McDavid, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson, and other so-called superstars that garner everyone’s attention.
Unfortunately for hockey fans, I do not see this changing. Wheeler simply cannot compete with the teams and players mentioned above because he is not someone that the league puts the spotlight on.
That’s too bad because the league is missing out when it comes to one of their most consistent and best players.
Photo: Sporting News