If you want to find one team that has been so close to the playoffs that it hurts, it would be the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets have been around the .500 mark for the last few seasons and can’t seem to get over the hump. The team now has one of their top players, Blake Wheeler, heading into free agency, and they must find a way to keep him around.
Wheeler is only 26-years old and just scored 41 points this season. He may only be a restricted free agent, but he is a player that the team can’t let get away here. He is young and can still be productive around Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane. I think Winnipeg will benefit a great deal from the new realignment beginning next year and could easily find their way into the playoffs. They won’t be able to do that without Wheeler on the roster, though.
He seems to be finally maturing as a player, and if he were to leave now and become a superstar somewhere else, the team will be regretting that forever. I’m sure that a six-year contract worth around $25 million would be enough to lock him down now. The fans have finally come back to Winnipeg and as the team enters their third season in their new home, it’s time to take the next step.
That step involves keeping Wheeler in the fold and making sure that he is there for a very long time.