Rant Sports NHL Prospect Primer: Mark Scheifele

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

It’s no secret that the Winnipeg Jets are a team that, while trying to stay competitive, is building from the ground up.

They have some strong players at the NHL level right now, but it’s clear that Kevin Cheveldayoff and Co. are looking to build through the draft so the team can thrive in the future.

One of the young players the Jets are envisioning as part of a bright future is Mark Scheifele. He is the crown jewel of the Winnipeg farm system and the organization is expecting big things from him after drafting him 7th overall in the 2011 draft.

Leading up to that draft, scouts pegged Scheifele as a player whose stock was rising quickly almost out of nowhere, saying he would be a nice “steal” later in the first round. As we all know by now, the Jets liked him so much they decided to grab him in the top-10. The pick was criticized as a reach, but either way he’s in Winnipeg’s system so let’s hope they were right.

So what did the Jets see in Scheifele when they drafted him? They saw a 6’3” playmaking center that could eventually grow into his frame. Scheifele raised a lot of eyebrows in his first season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, putting up 75 points in 66 games while playing on a weak squad.

The fact that Scheifele was heavily relied upon for his team’s offense, played a two-way game, and displayed a hard work ethic made his stock soar. According to various scouting reports, Scheifele has excellent hockey sense and vision, is a great passer and an unselfish player committed to playing both ends of the rink. The cons in Scheifele’s reports included weakness on face-offs, size and his skating.

Based on those evaluations, Scheifele has all the tools to become a great number one or number two centerman. The key is Scheifele’s strengths are in areas that cannot necessarily be coached and his areas of weakness can be worked on without too much difficulty. With Scheifele’s strong level of commitment, he has a good chance of eliminating those weaknesses.

2011-12

Scheifele made the Jets opening night roster and would play in seven games, managing to score his first NHL goal before being reassigned to juniors. When he got back to Barrie, he proceeded to light it up, with 63 points in 47 games. Most notably, he scored one more goal than he had in his first OHL season while appearing in 19 fewer games. At the end of the junior season, Scheifele joined the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the St. Johns Ice Caps. Scheifele played in 10 Calder Cup playoff games with the Ice Caps and managed just one point.

Outlook

While things are looking bright for Scheifele, he’s still a year away. With the lockout in effect, the 19-year-old will play another season with Barrie where he’ll get more opportunities to dominate and develop into a leader.  After one more productive season in juniors, Scheifele should be ready to make the jump to the Jets and possibly become an impact player right away.

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