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Wheeler jumps to German Elite League

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By Ed Tait

Add Blake Wheeler’s name to the long list of Winnipeg Jets who have found work overseas.

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The Jets’ leading scorer in 2011-12, Wheeler has signed with EHC Red Bull Munchen of the German Elite League and is expected to join the team this week for an away game against Dusseldorf.

Wheeler’s addition comes at a perfect time for Munich after they lost two players to injury this week.

The big Minnesotan has been practising in Minneapolis with fellow Jets teammate Dustin Byfuglien and several locked-out NHLers, the majority of them members of the Minnesota Wild.

Wheeler played Sunday in a charity game in Minnesota, picking up a goal and three assists as part of an effort where locked-out NHLers helped raised money for Defending the Blue Line.

Said EHC manager Christian Winkler on the team’s website (translated): "Once again it has been shown that patience pays off. Blake gave us the feeling that he is looking forward to this challenge. The discussions with him were totally uncomplicated and highly professional."

Wheeler, 26, is coming off a career season in which he scored 17 goals and added 47 assists for the Jets in 80 games.

He is the second Jet in just over a week to find work in Europe after defenceman Toby Enstrom, who has been practising with the Swedish team Modo, signed with EC Red Bull Salsburg of the Austrian League.

Already in Europe are Evander Kane (Dinamo Minsk), Nik Antropov (Barys Astana) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (HC Donbass Donetsk), all in the KHL, and Onjre Pavelec (Bili Tygri Liberec) of the Czech Extraliga.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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