Coyotes lose Wheeler
Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced today that Blake Wheeler, selected by the Coyotes in the 2004 Entry Draft, has rejected the Coyotes contract offer and will become an unrestricted free agent.To the surprise of many, Phoenix drafted Wheeler fifth overall four years ago out of high school, and he's had a little bit of a rocky ride in the NCAA.
“We offered Blake a contract which was both commensurate with his draft position and far exceeded any guaranteed contract he can receive, under the current CBA, with any other team,” said Maloney. “He has decided, however, that becoming a free agent is in his best interest.
“We are very happy with the compensatory pick we will receive for Blake not signing, which will be the fifth pick in the second round. This is a very deep draft and we now have five picks in the first two rounds, which is very exciting.”
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any player who does not remain a college player through the graduation of his applicable class (in this case 2009), must submit a letter stating his intention to turn professional. Upon submission of that letter, the drafting club shall have 30 days to sign the player. If the player and team cannot reach an agreement within that 30 day period, the player becomes a free agent. Wheeler submitted his letter of intention to turn professional on May 8.
It's expected, however, that he'll have plenty of suitors in the NHL given his size and skill package.
UPDATE The Arizona Republic has more.