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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Arbitration looms for Wheeler, Bruins

By James Murphy
Special to

Just a week before Bruins forward Blake Wheeler's July 27 arbitration hearing, there was no progress to report on contract talks between the restricted free agent and the club.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Wheeler's agent Matt Keator said the two sides would talk again this weekend but gave no indication that those talks would settle the matter.

"We'll talk to them again this weekend and see how that goes," Keator said. "But there's nothing new to report right now and if we can't reach an agreement this weekend, then we go to arbitration. That's fine and that's why they have the arbitration process."

Wheeler, who has 39 goals and 83 points in 163 games with the Bruins, made $2.8 million last season and almost certainly would get a raise through arbitration.

But even Wheeler's cap hit from 2009-10, combined with the signing of top pick Tyler Seguin to his entry-level deal, would put the Bruins over the $59.4 million salary cap. That is why there has been plenty of speculation that the Bruins may deal the winger who was drafted fifth overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004. But Keator didn't seem to believe that would happen.

"I don't really know because that's a question for the Bruins, but I wouldn't think so," Keator said. "He's only 23 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. We're not concerned about that. We know the cap situation and we know Peter [Chiarelli, the Bruins' GM] is working hard to deal with it. But we can't worry about it because it's out of our control."

The Bruins also would have the option of walking away from an arbitration award and have a 48-hour window in which they can buy out any player on the roster to accommodate the Wheeler award.

James Murphy has covered the Bruins and the NHL for the last eight seasons. He has written for,, and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also authors a blog, Drop Puck Murphy.