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VIDEO: Blake Wheeler talks about playing center 09.28.10 at 12:57 pm ET
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Here’s some video of Blake Wheeler talking about the possibility of playing center, a position he hasn’t played since college. With Marc Savard out and David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron centering the top two lines respectively, Claude Julien has suggested playing Wheeler as a pivot.

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Blake Wheeler loves him some CCM skates 09.21.10 at 3:20 pm ET
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AP Photo

AP Photo

There’s been a lot of hockey equipment talk coming from the Bruins over the last few days. The Joe Colborne neck guard post was supposed to be the lone tune of its genre played at this dance, but Blake Wheeler spoke at length Tuesday about switching up his skate of choice as he enters the 2010-11 season. After feeling that his second season in Boston featured more trouble turning and getting out of stops than usual, he’s sporting a new pair of CCMs this training camp.

“I had worn CCM skates my entire life,” Wheeler said Tuesday. “I gave Bauers a shot last year, and I don’t know, they didn’t really work out as well as I would have liked. It’s a great product, a great skate, and for me, I guess the best fit was [CCM].

“I feel different,” he added. “I feel a lot better out there and just a lot quicker and a lot more like myself. I’m able to make a little bit more one-on-one moves, be a little more effective.”

Wheeler said that he didn’t consider a change back to CCM during his sophomore season, nothing that “nothing felt wrong” for the most part during games, but that he did feel hindered in “crucial spots” when needing a burst in attempt to chase a puck or create a turnover.

“It was very frustrating for me,” Wheeler said. “I couldn’t really pinpoint it and once I threw these on this summer, I felt it right away. It was good to get that behind me.”

Though he’s glad to be back with CCM, Wheeler didn’t knock the Bauer product, likening the preference to one’s choice of shoe.

“It’s like anything else,” he said. “Some guys like Nike shoes, some like Adidas. It is what it is.”

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X-factors: Blake Wheeler 08.25.10 at 6:00 am ET
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Blake Wheeler has gotten attention for all the wrong reasons. (AP)

Blake Wheeler has gotten attention for all the wrong reasons. (AP)

Each day this week, WEEI.com will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their “X-factor” status entering the season. So far, we’ve taken a look at Michael Ryder, as well as the goaltending position. Up next is a man who — fairly or unfairly — might have to win some fans back in winger Blake Wheeler following a streaky and up-and-down season.

Something’s being written about Blake Wheeler? This offseason? We know — given his arbitration case, Wheeler may have been the most blogged about Bruin this side of Tyler Seguin, so this one will stay away from the usual stuff. Unlike what seemed to be minute-by-minute updates of the whole arbitration process in Toronto last month, this will be more of a look at how Wheeler can be one of the offense’s top contributors or one of its bigger disappointments. For that reason, it’s impossible to keep Wheeler out of this series.

Wheeler is a similar case to Ryder in that he’s a winger who at times both underachieved and infuriated fans throughout the 2009-10 season. Unlike Ryder, Wheeler is not set to hit free agency following the coming season, but he is playing for a contract in that he’ll be restricted at the end of the season. The motivation is there for Wheeler to put up big numbers, but he seems motivated enough as he prepares for his third NHL season.

Wheeler’s value is as a scorer undoubtedly, but his lack of physicality left people with something to be desired. Factor in that he didn’t crack 20 goals (he chipped in 18) and the naysayers didn’t have much difficulty making an argument against a timid winger who had scoreless stretches of 15, 12, and nine games.

So will this be Wheeler’s breakout season? He’ll be 24 when the season starts and he’s armed with a 6-foot-5 frame that, if filled out and utilized, could serve as an advantage. Based on his offseason evaluations of himself, Wheeler doesn’t expect to warrant any complaints about toughness again.

“I think for me it’s all about — especially on the forecheck — being more physical, more of a presence. I think I’ve gotten so focused on the offensive production and the numbers side of things, especially last year, where I think there’s definitely more ways to be a contributing factor out on the ice,” Wheeler said shortly after inking his deal. “It’s just all about understanding your areas of strengths and your areas of weakness. I think if I can just assert myself more physically, especially on the forecheck and things of that nature, it’s going to create a lot more opportunities for myself and the guys I’m playing with to get more offensive opportunities. Sometimes it’s about less is more, and when you kind of take a step back from things, it’s a little bit easier to notice where you may be able to improve on things.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Wheeler wants to be a scorer, play ‘more physical’ 07.30.10 at 12:19 pm ET
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Blake Wheeler has had his plate full this offseason. The 23-year-old recently got married and said he was operating on just three hours of sleep in the days leading up to Tuesday’s arbitration hearing with the Bruins. After he was awarded a salary of $2.2 million for the 2010-11 season, the Bruins on Friday agreed to the terms, meaning he will be in the fold for the coming season.

Despite how hectic things may have been in planning a wedding and trying to figure out whether he would be back with the team he played his first two seasons for, a considerable amount of time in Wheeler’s offseason has gone into becoming the player he and many others feel he can be.

“I think for me it’s all about — especially on the forecheck — being more physical, more of a presence. I think I’ve gotten so focused on the offensive production and the numbers side of things, especially last year, where I think there’s definitely more ways to be a contributing factor out on the ice,” Wheeler said Friday. “It’s just all about understanding your areas of strengths and your areas of weakness. I think if I can just assert myself more physically , especially on the forecheck and things of that nature, it’s going to create a lot more opportunities for myself and the guys I’m playing with to get more offensive opportunities. Sometimes it’s about less is more, and when you kind of take a step back from things, it’s a little bit easier to notice where you may be able to improve on things.”

Wheeler has fallen under criticism for not being physical enough for a forward of 6-foot-3 stature. However, as he works at being more aggressive on the forecheck, there are plenty of positives in his game. He scored 20 and 18 goals in his first two seasons, respectively, and his potential seems to be far from maxed out.

Despite having a respectable 83 points for someone entering their third season in the NHL, Wheeler is also hoping to show up more on the scoring sheet next season. As a result, he’s made a big part of his offseason revolve around shooting. In fact, Wheeler is so eager to become a better scorer that he’s made it so he can work from home.

“I think pretty much doing the exact same thing I did last summer. I came into camp probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in physically, mentally, all the above. My training’s pretty much the same as it was last year. The thing I’m really focusing on is shooting pucks. I’ve been working on my shot quite a bit this summer, trying to do whatever it takes to extend my range a little bit,” Wheeler said. “I set up a shooting tarp in my garage. Whenever there’s nothing to do [I] just go out there and pump some pucks at the tarp, so I guess that’s the only real difference, trying to work on the shot and things like that.”

As Wheeler takes shot after shot in his garage in Minnesota, what does he look to accomplish?

“Getting comfortable shooting from farther away from the net. Any time you can put a shot on net from really anywhere — you know, top of the circle and in, it’s going to be a pretty good look — so I think just getting that mentality and getting comfortable letting the puck go like that, is something that could really help me,” Wheeler said. “I’ve obviously probably been more of a passer in my first two years and I think I’d like to close the gap a little bit and start shooting a little bit more, so working on that definitely will help.”

The Bruins and Wheeler’s camp each drove a hard bargain, but should they get their resources in order, $2.2 million for someone intent on addressing their weaknesses could be a pretty good deal.

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Wheeler: Playing elsewhere ‘never crossed my mind’ at 11:40 am ET
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With Friday’s announcement that the Bruins have agreed to a salary awarded in arbitration for the first time since Peter Chiarelli took over as general manager, it became official that right wing Blake Wheeler would be back in Boston for the 2010-2011 season. The 23-year-old Wheeler told members of the media Friday that it’s exactly where he wants to be.

“It never crossed my mind, being with another team,” Wheeler said. “I think that would be a pretty big surprise for me, but throughout the whole process, even if that was an option, I definitely wanted to be in Boston. Not only because our group of guys is so good and we’ve had such a good locker room over the last couple of years and such great team chemistry. I think we’re right on the cusp of getting to where we want to go. I think every guy in our room can feel that.”

Arbitration is something that both sides generally like to avoid at all costs. A process in which a team basically has to tell a player he isn’t as good he thinks he is can be rather difficult. Wheeler came away from the whole process pleased, however, with how both his camp and the Bruins were able to handle the hearing.

“Before the hearing, I was anxious, obviously. You hear all the horror stories of all the different things that go on in those rooms, but once I was in there and having both sides being argued, it was handled extremely professionally,” Wheeler said. “There was nothing said in that room that I didn’t already know myself. There were no low blows or anything like that taken on either side. ”

Now that Wheeler is back on a one-year $2.2 million deal, he looks forward to getting back into the swing of things and making up for a disappointing Game 7 loss to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Last year was certainly heartbreaking in the sense that we were one win away for four games to going to the net ground and advancing our hopes of obviously winning the Stanley Cup,” Wheeler said. “There’s been a lot of excitement in the moves that have been made.”

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Bruins sign Wheeler at 10:21 am ET
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After having to wait extra long to find out what his 2010-2011 salary would be Thursday, Bruins right wing Blake Wheeler‘s $2.2 award was agreed to Friday morning by the Bruins.

“It is never a pleasant experience for either side to go to arbitration,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “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.”

In Wheeler the Bruins retain a young forward who has averaged just under 20 goals in his first two NHL seasons. The 6-foot-3 winger scored 18 goals and 20 assists for 38 points last season.

The team likely will now its attention to inking rookie center Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick in June’s NHL draft.

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Wheeler gets $2.2 million 07.29.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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The wait for Bruins right winger Blake Wheeler is finally over. A source has confirmed to WEEI.com that Wheeler received a $2.2 million award in arbitration Thursday night. The Boston Globe was the first to report the story.

The 23-year-old forward and the Bruins were expected to be made aware of the award by award by noon on Thursday, but the arbiter had her hands full with Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi’s hearing and delayed the decision.

“The decision came in the range we expected. There were no winners or losers in this case,” Wheeler’s agent, Matt Keator, told WEEI.com. “Blake is excited for camp and ready to go.”

The Bruins now have 48 hours to sign Wheeler to the $2.2 million, which Keator assumes the team will do. Should the Bruins agree to the awarded salary, they will retain Wheeler for the upcoming season, after which he will become a free agent. Keeping him would open a second buyout window, which could help them clear some room against the salary cap. Should the Bruins walk away from the ruling, Wheeler will become a free agent and they will get nothing in return for him.

The Bruins also made minor news on Thursday, inking Yale defenseman Ryan Donald to a two-year contract to play in Providence.

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