Wheeler agreed to a one-year contract Saturday with sources telling ESPN's Emily Kaplan the deal is worth $800,000 and includes up to $300,000 in bonuses.
The signing comes less than a day after the 36-year-old Wheeler was placed on unconditional waivers by the Winnipeg Jets for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract. Wheeler, who was set to earn $8.25 million in his final season, will cost the Jets $2.75 million a year for the next two seasons.
Getting Wheeler gives the Rangers an experienced top-six winger who can create for himself and his teammates. Wheeler finished with 16 goals and 55 points last season for his 10th campaign of more than 50 points. He also provides the Rangers with another power-play option as his seven goals were fourth on the Jets.
His future with the Jets had been in question for some time, after he was stripped of his captaincy prior to the start of the season. The Jets, who missed the postseason in 2021-22, got back into the playoffs last season only to be eliminated in the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
Being knocked out in the first and/or qualifying round for the third time in five seasons led to questions about what appeared to be a stagnant core. Those concerns intensified considering Wheeler, along with Connor Hellebuyck, Nino Niederreiter and Mark Scheifele, each had one year left on their contract.
Wheeler played two-plus seasons with the Boston Bruins before he was traded to what was then the Atlanta Thrashers. He was with the team when it relocated to Winnipeg and would ultimately spend 13 years between the two franchises. His time with the Jets saw Wheeler finish with 262 goals and 812 points in 897 games.
Parting ways with Wheeler was the latest entry in a busy offseason for the Jets. The first move came Tuesday when they completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Los Angeles Kings that saw Pierre-Luc Dubois head to Southern California for Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, Gabriel Vilardi and a 2024 second-round pick. Dubois signed an eight-year deal with the Kings worth $8.5 million annually.
Wheeler was not the only veteran the Rangers are signing as they agreed to a one-year deal with goaltender Jonathan Quick worth $825,000, the team announced Saturday. Quick, who went 16-15-6 with a 3.41 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage, becomes the backup for 2021-22 Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin.
The Connecticut native and three-time Stanley Cup winner hit the open market following a whirlwind season. Quick, 37, was part of a goaltending dynamic with the Los Angeles Kings that struggled to find consistency. It led to the Kings moving Quick to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he was on the roster for less than 48 hours before being traded to the Golden Knights and becoming part of their title-winning team.