Whether or not Blake Wheeler is the next captain of the Winnipeg Jets is still up in the air. Whether or not he’s a top fantasy option, however, is pretty clear.
Wheeler put up career-high numbers last season with 78 points in 82 games. He scored 26 goals, added 52 assists, and finished second only to Patrick Kane in scoring among right wingers. So it’s safe to say Wheeler is a top fantasy option, especially in leagues that either value assists equal to goals, or have their own separate category for each on a week-to-week basis as Yahoo does.
Notably missing: Blake Wheeler, who only 11 fwds have had more pts than in the last 3 years (only 5 did last year). pic.twitter.com/dYNWWuUCSM
— John Malloy (@JMall95) August 8, 2016
The beauty of the Jets as a small market team is that at times they get overlooked, and their players underrated, in fantasy leagues. You can pick up good players on oft-forgotten teams who, objectively, should go much higher in the draft than they do. Personally, I’ve found success grabbing Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers in the later rounds of my own drafts, but that’s a story for another day.
If you happen to be in a draft and find Winnipeg getting overlooked, other people’s loss can be your gain. Today is the first in a series designed to not only give Jets fans a refresher on the offensive firepower they have to look forward to this season but to give others a look at some of the players that might pardon the pun, fly under the radar on draft day. First up is the Jets go-to-guy in all situations, Blake Wheeler.
A Man For All Seasons
If your league counts nothing but the essentials (i.e. points) then Blake Wheeler’s case is pretty thoroughly made by his stats line. The second leading scorer among all right wingers in the NHL and one of the most consistent and (touch wood) durable players of the last several seasons is more than worth an early pick on draft day. If your league has other categories and goes a little deeper into the stats, Wheeler becomes doubly valuable.
Like most of the Jets, Wheeler’s PP numbers aren’t great. Also like most of the Jets, his numbers are expected to improve with the arrival of holy PP terror Patrik Laine. He still managed 17 PP points last year too.
Since he is used in all situations by the Jets, Wheeler also put up points on the penalty kill, so if your league counts shorthanded points, you’re doubly in the black with Wheeler. He can also be counted on to throw his weight around. Very few forwards have his all-around skill set and his near universal usage. There is no situation in which the Jets cannot trust Wheeler. And if your league counts shootout goals for whatever reason, he can help you there too.
Some people have theorized that playing with youngster Patrik Laine could really send Wheeler into overdrive, but even if he and Laine only share the ice during the man advantage it will work to his advantage. And it’s not as if he’ll be just dragging his linemates along for the ride if Laine isn’t riding shotgun with him. He found instant chemistry with Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele last year, and they formed one of the NHL’s deadliest trios over the final 25 games.
So, on draft day, don’t be afraid to swoop in and get a potential steal in Wheeler. Just don’t wait too long. The rest of the hockey world is bound to start noticing the Jets best player at some point.
A long time hockey fan and player from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Play-by-play man with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Graduate of Red River College’s Creative Communications program with a major in journalism. Former PxP man for the University of Manitoba Bisons. Lover of all things Jets and Avs related and always looking for a good hockey debate.