Blake Wheeler's arbitration, and how Boston might handle the hit

Barring some late breakthrough between the sides, RW Blake Wheeler(notes) and the Boston Bruins will go to arbitration on Tuesday morning with a 1-year contract at stake.

Wheeler's cap hit was $2.825 million last season for the Bruins, and Joe Haggerty of CSNNE believes that Mason Raymond's(notes) new deal with the Vancouver Canucks could be a guide to what Wheeler and his agent Matt Keator are asking for in arbitration:

Raymond was inked to a two-year, $5.1 million dollar contract and it's not unreasonable to think Wheeler and Keator are seeking at least $2.55 million per season that contract amounts to over the next two campaigns.

No matter what happens in the hearing, the Bruins are going to have to figure out how to fit Wheeler in under the cap (unless they trade him, which is unlikely). From Haggerty:

The B's have just under $600,000 in cap space with a bare-bones roster heading into the arbitration hearing while still looking at an unsigned Tyler Seguin(notes) heading into the final full month of the offseason.

While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli will have some artificially-built space with Marco Sturm's(notes) $3.5 million cap hit on injured reserve through the first two months of the season - and room to fit everything in until that point - a salary-juggling move will eventually need to made to free up some cap space during the season.

Via Cap Geek's invaluable calculator, Wheeler in at $2.55 million and Sturm out would leave the Bruins $962,229 under the cap with Seguin left to sign.

Tim Thomas(notes), backup goalie, $5 million against the cap, no trade clause ... that's some quality foresight right there, Boston