|Source: Bruins, Wheeler making ‘no progress’||07.19.10 at 12:38 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to avoid arbitration in the cases of Gregory Campbell and Blake Wheeler, and though they did so with Campbell last week with a two-year, $2.2 million deal, locking up Wheeler before his July 27 hearing may not be as easy.
According to a league source, the Bruins and Wheeler’s camp have made “no progress” thus far on a new contract, though talks are expected to pick up soon. If Wheeler makes it to a hearing and the Bruins choose against paying him what he is awarded, the 23-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign with any team.
The Bruins would officially be over the $59.4 million salary cap by signing Wheeler, who earned $2.8 million last season, but general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated last week that it is the team’s intention to come to deals with both Wheeler and rookie forward Tyler Seguin.
Defenseman David Tanabe is the only the case in which Chiarelli and a player saw the arbitration process through, with Tanabe being awarded $1.275 in 2006 and the Bruins letting him walk. Tanabe then signed with the Hurricanes and played parts of two seasons with the team before a concussion ended his career.
Wheeler is just two years into his NHL career and last season scored 18 goals and chipped in 20 assists for 38 points, a step down from the 21-24-45 totals he posted as a rookie in the 2008-2009 campaign. He has missed just one game in his career.