Oh, to be a 21-year-old free agent in the NHL.
Granted, former University of Minnesota star Blake Wheeler can't break the bank when he signs his first NHL contract. His earning power is severely limited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to the point where he could have made much more money by signing with Phoenix, who had his draft rights.
As of July 1, Wheeler is free to sign with any NHL team. He's been free to talk to teams since June 1.
Since teams can only offer him so much money, Wheeler can shop his services and find the best fit. He's apparently at work on that. Larry Brooks of the New York Postsays he met Wednesday with the New York Rangers, and he also stopped by the Devils facilities for a chat.
Certainly, the Rangers present an interesting potential match, and there will be other earning opportunities readily available for Wheeler in New York City if he can play well. New Jersey's organization has been quite kind to college players as of late, with Zach Parise (North Dakota) and Brian Gionta (Boston College) serving as prime examples.
Meanwhile, Michael Russo reports that Wheeler isn't keen on signing in Minnesota.
"He loves Minnesota and loves living there, but we're looking elsewhere because I think he wants to get a different life experience, explore a different part of the country and grow and mature and experience new things," (agent Matt) Keator said. "The Wild has shown plenty of interest. They've been great."
Hard to argue with that point. I love Minnesota, but there isn't a ton to do or see here compared to other places.