Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you don't know about Twitter, get with the times old man.
Wheeler was awarded $2.2 million, as first reported by ESPN Boston's Jimmy Murphy. CSNNE's Joe Haggerty talked to agent Matt Keator, who said, "Decision came in range we expected. There were no winners or losers in this case. Blake is excited for camp and ready to go."
Of course, the fact that both sides view the contract as more or less reasonable when compared to the rest of the NHL is, in a word, silly.
I think Wheeler is a perfectly good hockey player, not great or even that much above average, but good. And the fact that he's getting $2.2 million from an arbitrator rather than his team or another that slid him an offer sheet tells you that's roughly market value for comparable players. The Bruins will take that number for sure.
But think about that. He's getting $2.2 million. A raise of about 150 percent over the base salary of the two-year deal he signed when he came into the league. And for what? He was sensational his rookie year, don't get me wrong. But he declined in goals (by 14 percent) and assists (by 17 percent) last season, with no change in power-play goals despite an extra minute on the man advantage per game, and two extra minutes of ice time. And he's a ghost in the playoffs to the tune of 1-5-6, minus-6 in 21 career games.
Yet that's market value. Because Clarke MacArthur(notes) pulled $2.4 million from an arbitrator. Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley, who likely choked on his ice water when he heard that number, wisely said MacArthur could take that money, and his sub-Wheeler point totals, and see if he could find someone to pay him it.
Know who's kicking himself right now? Matt Moulson(notes). Guy plays one full season, picks up 30 goals (only nine fewer than Wheeler had in two years), and settles for another year at $2.45 million. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Especially when Tomas Fleischmann(notes) picked up a year at $2.6 million for fewer goals (though more assists and a proven track record of increasing his production every year he's been in the league).
Of course, in their case, they reached an agreement with their teams before the arbitrator had a chance to hear the case, which is probably good news for their clubs.
Here are two guys who got a lot of time with legitimately excellent players and benefited hugely. Fleischmann got about 30 percent of his ice time with one of Alex Ovechkin(notes), Nick Backstrom or Alex Semin, and 8-22-30 of his points came when one of those three factored into the scoring.
Moulson got 12 of his goals and 11 of his assists with either Kyle Okposo(notes) or John Tavares(notes) in on the scoring, which makes sense since he was on the ice with at least one of them 73 percent of the time.
Not that that kind of thing seems to matter.
So in a couple months, when you're sitting there wondering why your team is paying a guy with 11 goals through 50 games, or a guy who doesn't seem to do much except stand in at the top of the crease and shovel in highlight-reel passes, $2.something million, you've got your answer.
The arbitrators are out of their minds.
The last of the Douchegate fallout I promise
Perhaps in response to this treacherous barb, they went out and traded for St. Louis tough guy D.J. King(notes), who does his best work when he's punching dudes in the face. Of course, King wasn't aware of the insult at the time of the trade, but when told about it by the Washington Post's Tarik ElBashir (who is unfortunately now off the Caps beat), he had this to say:
"Wow. I guess that's not going to be happening too much longer, I guess."
It's gonna be awesome when King punches someone square in the kisser for mouthing off to Ovie.
Yet more NHLers on Twitter
Yes, more current and future NHL players are joining Twitter every week. This week saw the addition of Mike Rupp (@Rupper17), who considers this week's episode of Big Brother to have been "amateur hour," and American Hero/Dallas Stars draft pick Jack Campbell (@JCampbell921).
This week I got an interesting email from one Kelly Twomey, who provided me with a cautionary tale about taking Twitter rumors seriously. Said K-Dawg, "[O]ur own Greg Wyshynski was recently guilty of that."
It seems Kelly made an absent-minded (and by his own admission rather poor) testicle joke, and our dear Greg took it to be serious.
"Who knows though," writes Twomey, "maybe Wysh was double-timing me and posted it so I would be further ridiculed. His genius cannot be overstated."
True. That's why he gets to go on vacation in August, while Leahy and the rest of us refresh Twitter for the Niemi arbitration numbers, which are sure to be insane and therefore hilarious.
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