The Boston Bruins announced Friday that they have signed forward Blake Wheeler to a new one-year contract.
The announcement came a day after Wheeler was awarded a $2.2-million US deal by an arbitrator.
The Bruins could have declined to accept the ruling by the arbitrator, which would have made Wheeler an unrestricted free agent.
But Boston decided to lock up the 23-year-old forward, who will receive a big raise from the $875,000 that he earned last season.
"It is never a pleasant experience for either side to go to arbitration," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a media release.
"However, as a manager, you know that the player will be under contract for the following year either way. We talked to Blake before and after the hearing and we are satisfied to have a good, young player under contract for another year."
Wheeler admitted he was "anxious" going into the hearing.
"It was handled extremely professionally," he said. "I was really happy to be through with that part of the process."
A first-round pick (fifth overall) of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2004 NHL draft, Wheeler signed with Boston as a free agent in 2008.
Last season, his second with the Bruins, the Minnesota native scored 18 goals and added 20 assists in 82 games. He also registered six points in 13 playoff games.
In two seasons with the Bruins, Wheeler has tallied 39 goals and 44 assists for 83 points in 163 regular-season games.
The decision to accept the arbitrator's award puts the Bruins over the $59.4 million US salary cap, which means the club has to make a move in order to get under the cap before the start of the 2010-11 NHL season.
Boston could trade Wheeler or another player in order to free up the necessary cap space.With files from Associated Press