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NHL Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets: Will Mark Scheifele Crack The Lineup Next Season?

Tom Szczerbowski – USA TODAY Sports

Several years of finishing out of playoff contention has given the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise many chances to add top draft picks to their organization. Some of those players have gone on to make an immediate impact with the team, while others continue to mature in juniors or the AHL. The Jets have so far been incredibly patient with the development of 2011 first round pick Mark Scheifele, but next season could finally be the right time for them to give him a longer look.

Scheifele played in just four games with the Jets this season, and only seven games last season. He scored his first goal last season, which so far accounts for his only career point. The Jets drafted the young center after a 22-goal, 5-point rookie season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, and he has only gotten better since then. He only played 45 games for the Colts last season, but scored 39 goals and had 70 points. He was just as good in the playoffs, scoring another 15 goals and collecting 41 points in 21 games.

The Jets have a lot of free agents this summer, so there’s a decent chance at least one roster spot might be open. Evander Kane made the jump after three seasons in juniors and Alexander Burmistrov played just one season in the OHL (also with Barrie) before joining the team. After the best season of his career, Scheifele is sure to at least get a good look in camp, and if he can translate his scoring ability at the NHL level he would be a great addition for the Jets.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.