The Scheifele Conundrum

Matt Eichel
September 27 2011 07:25AM

If there is one thing Winnipeggers are a seeming split on, it's what to do with rookie sensation Mark Scheifele.
 
Three months ago, newly minted Jets fans were turning to each other and scratching their heads when GM Kevin Cheveldayoff shocked the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by nabbing Scheifele at the seven spot.
 
Now, Jets fans are praising Cheveldayoff as a pure genius.
 
Not only is Scheifele having a tremendous pre-season, he leads all pre-season scorers after Monday night with six point (three goals, three assists) in only three games.
 
But let's just hang out a moment before we start calling Scheifele the next great Jet - in line to the throne of Dale Hawerchuk.
 
Two seasons ago, Scheifele was not even playing Junior A hockey albeit thinking about a career in the NHL full-time, or even being a first round draft pick.
 
Last season in Barrie, Scheifele picked up 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in 66 games, with 35 penalty minutes and a minus 22 rating on a Barrie Colts team that stunk up the OHL with a dismal 15-49-2-2 record under the same Jet legend Hawerchuk.
 
Before cracking an NHL lineup himself, Hawerchuk registered 103 point (37 goals, 66 assists) and 183 point (81 goals, 102 assist) seasons in the QMJHL.  
 
He promptly went on to be the youngest player to ever score 100 points in a season, before Sidney Crosby cracked that record, in 1981-82 after getting nabbed as the first pick overall in '81.
 
Scheifele is a league of his own, however.  
 
He is also in an era vastly different than that of his junior coach.
 
If anything, another year in Barrie with the Colts would improve Scheifele's chances of becoming a full-bred, full-time, impact-type NHL player.  There is no need and no hurry to rush this kid.
 
Unlike the Jets of 1981-82, who had only Morris Lukowich and Dave Christian collecting over 60 points in the first two seasons of NHL hockey in Winnipeg, the Jets of 2011 have a plethora of young talent that is ready to reach its true potential.
 
With Bryan Little, Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Ondrej Pavelec all at the age of 26 or younger, the Jets can afford to develop Mark Scheifele slowly until he is ready to make an impact in an 82 game NHL schedule.
 
Winnipeg fans have waited 15 years for their Jets to come back.
 
I think they have enough patience to wait for Mark Scheifele.

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Matt Eichel writes the Jets All Out Blog. A resident of Winnipeg, Matt stays on top of the latest Jets news and updates. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattyallout
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#1 RexLibris
September 27 2011, 05:32PM
Trash it!
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props

As an Oiler fan I think my take on this would be fairly predictable: patience.

I'd be inclined to send him back after a few games in the NHL to see how he stacks up. If he has a chance to play in the WJ all the better. But at the NHL level it seems his ice time might be diminished with all the forwards on the roster and it has always been my opinion that top-end prospects need to play and they need to dominate at successive levels. If Scheifele goes back to Barrie he is less likely to suffer injury, his ice time is likely to increase and he is more likely to dominate at that level and practice the skills that he has now seen firsthand are needed to play (and stay) in the NHL.

It may also insulate him from some of the pressure that is sure to be felt by the Jets players this year in such an intense hockey market.

If he plays in the NHL and does so well to improve the Jets from, say, a 28th overall finish to a 25th overall finish, that does not help the team this year and the risks to his development are too great. Bobby Ryan was held back for three years after being drafted 2nd overall and when he was ready he came in and absolutely dominated because he knew what to do and how to do it to the level of the professionals against whom he was playing.

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