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Our number 1 centre knows how to get it done: Mark Scheifele Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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It’s time to talk about the Winnipeg Jets #1 centre, and maybe #1 forward on the team this season, Mark Scheifele. Welcome back to another edition of the Jets Nation year in review series, where I look at how a player did this season with the Jets and look ahead to what their season could be like next season. Yesterday I covered Dylan DeMelo and Kyle Connor, and today I’m beginning with a linemate on the top line with Connor, Mark Scheifele.
Before getting into the season that was for Scheifele, I got to start off by saying that personally, Scheifele is my favourite current Winnipeg Jets player. There’s just something about him that I can’t really describe which makes him a likeable player. I think part of it goes way back to the early stages of Scheifele’s career where he doubters that he wasn’t going to live up to his expectations. I just had a feeling that he was going to breakthrough not much later, and soon after Scheifele became a staple of this Jets team.
The 31-year old from Kitchener, Ontario is a former 1st round, 7th overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft. This season seemed to be more about assists than goals for Scheifele. In 74 games, Scheifele scored 25 goals and added 47 assists from 72 points. His goals might have dipped from his career high of 42 from last season, but his 72 points was his best since he got 73 in 2019-20. Scheifele also managed a +19 this season, which is a nice turnaround from the -16 and -17 he got in the last 2 seasons.
I need to mention Scheifele’s playoff performance this year too, because he was one of the best Jets throughout the series. In the 5 game series loss to the Colorado Avalanche, Scheifele scored twice and added 4 assists for 6 points. Apart from last year’s playoffs and Scheifele’s 1st ever playoffs in 2014-15, Scheifele has proven to be a playoff performer. In 42 playoff games, Scheifele has put up 38 points. This production matches up with the 717 points he’s put up now in 797 career games.
Despite “only” 25 goals this season, Scheifele still put up a very solid 16.2% shooting percentage. It may not compare to his career best shooting percentage of 20.4% from last season, but his career average now sits at an impressive 16.7%. Scheifele isn’t known 1st for being a goal scorer though, he’s more been know recently as the guy that sets up the goals for the Jets goal scorers like Kyle Connor.
That point brings me to what I think Scheifele’s “scouting report” is like from this season. Being in a top 6 role, of course he’s a skilled player, but he also has a good overall hockey sense and vision out on the ice. His size and passing ability are what allow Scheifele to stand out from other “number 1” centres around the league. On the powerplay, Scheifele has been deployed a few different ways, including being the guy getting shots on net from in front, or being the guy who moves the puck around to set up the chances. One not as important stat that Scheifele continues to work on is his faceoff percentage, which sits a bit below league average at around 48%.
As I mentioned, Scheifele is an offence-first centre who has a good scoring touch but an even better passing ability. His numbers all but justify his recently signed 8 year, 8.5 million per year extension with the Winnipeg Jets. Along with Connor Hellebuyck, who also signed a matching deal to Scheifele’s, he’s one of the Jets that you won’t need to be worried about losing any time soon. The 7 year, 59.5 million dollar deal will keep Scheifele on the Jets until he is 38, which will be near the end of his career. The contract extension was a big talking point going into the 2023-24 season, and the team and fans were glad that they got a deal done before the season began, locking up a key piece to the team for many years to come.
What should you expect for Scheifele next season then? Well, it seems like a lock that Scheifele will remain on the top line, with his wingers likely being Kyle Connor and perhaps Gabe Vilardi. This trio seemed to work well this season, and they will gain more chemistry as Vilardi becomes fully accustomed to his new team. I think it’s very possible that Scheifele gets another 30 goal season next season, as there is no signs that his production is slowly down any time soon. The biggest thing to watch for next season will be Scheifele’s ability to set up goals, especially if he plays on a line with 2 goal scorers such as Connor and Vilardi. Whatever the case, Scheifele will be back next season, on his 1st year on his extension, looking to prove to the Jets that he’ll continue to be an elite #1 centre.

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