The Winnipeg Jets have signed captain Blake Wheeler to a five-year contract extension.
The deal is worth US$41.25 million, with an average annual value of $8.25 million.
Wheeler, 32, led the Jets with a career-high 91 points (23 goals, 68 assists) last season, good for ninth in NHL scoring. The assist total tied him for the league lead.
The winger from Plymouth, Minn., who has a salary cap hit of $5.6 million for 2018-19 season in the final year of a deal signed with Winnipeg in 2013, will make $10 million in 2019-20, $6.5 million in 2020-21, $10 million in 2021-22, $6.5 million in 2022-23 and $8.25 million in 2023-24.
The $10-million number in the first and third years of the contract are significant because a large chunk of that salary will come in the form of signing bonuses as protection against potential lockouts.
Wheeler reached at least 20 goals for the fifth consecutive season, and the sixth time in his career, in 2017-18.
The six-foot-five, 225-pound Wheeler made the NHL all-star game for the first time last season, helping lead the Jets to their first Western Conference final.
Winnipeg locked up goalie Connor Hellebuyck to a six-year, US$37-million contract and defenceman Jacob Trouba to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million in July, but still needs to sign fellow restricted free agent defenceman Josh Morrissey before training camp opens Sept. 13.
The Canadian Press