Blake Wheeler has signed his one-year, $2.2 million contract, officially putting him in the fold for 2010-11.
"Before the hearing, I was anxious, obviously," Wheeler said during a conference call. "You hear all the horror stories of different things that go on in those rooms. But once you're in there hearing both sides being argued, it was handled extremely professionally. Nothing was said in the room that I didn't already know myself. There were no low blows or anything like that taken by either side. It was handled extremely well. When the hearing was over, I felt great about it. I was really happy to be through that process."
Wheeler earned his $2.2 million arbitration award last night following his hearing on Tuesday.
"It is never a pleasant experience for either side to go to arbitration," GM Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. "However, as a manager, you know that the player will be under contract for the following year either way. We talked to Blake before and after the hearing and we are satisfied to have a good, young player under contract for another year."
Wheeler married his longtime girlfriend earlier this month. Wheeler was on his honeymoon in Hawaii prior to his hearing.
This summer, Wheeler said one of his target areas has been shooting the puck and extending his range. While linemate Michael Ryder has shown no hesitation in ripping off his deadly wristers from all angles, Wheeler hasn't been as trigger-happy.
"It's about getting comfortable with shooting farther away from the net," Wheeler said. "Any time you put a shot on net anywhere from the top of the circles in, it's going to be a pretty good look. It's getting that mentality and getting comfortable with letting the puck go like that. It should really help me. I think I've been more of a passer in my first two years. I'd like to close the gap. I think working on that will really help."
The Bruins are now over the $59.4 million cap. They can exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, allowing them to reach as high as $65,340,000 prior to the start of the regular season.
Chiarelli's likely next move is to sign Tyler Seguin to a three-year, entry-level contract. Seguin can earn as much as $3.75 million per season ($900,000 base salary plus bonuses).