They took their time but in the end, the announcement came as little surprise. The Winnipeg Jets sent 2011 first round draft pick Mark Scheifele back to his junior team, the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
The 19-year-old native of Kitchener, Ontario played in four games this season for the Jets, without registering a point. Coach Claude Noel was using Scheifele on a line with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn for the most part.
While Slater and Thorburn are useful players, they’re not the type of players that Scheifele should be paired with. (Plus the SST line doesn’t make much sense. Unless the Saskatchewan Sales Tax becomes the rage in the province next to Manitoba. But we think not.) Scheifele needs to be a top six forward, in order to be productive. Noel was reluctant to use Scheifele in key offensive roles, thinking he wasn’t ready yet.
While Scheifele did show some promise, he still needs to get stronger in order to take a regular shift in the NHL. He gets knocked off his feet far too easily, and still lacks NHL type speed. The strength will come in time as Scheifele fills out, but his skating will need work and the best place for him to work on that aspect of the game is in Barrie. His junior coach, former Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk is an excellent mentor and should provide proper motivation for Scheifele.
It should be noted that the lockout didn’t help the former World Junior star. Scheifele needed a full training camp, to adjust to the NHL game. The lockout prevented that and when the season was saved, a short training camp isn’t enough time to properly evaluate the youngster. Scheifele was essentially thrown to the wolves.
While the Jets did wait a while, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff finally made the decision today. Scheifele was a healthy scratch in four out of the last five games. Here’s hoping Scheifele continues to develop in Barrie, under the tutelage of Hawerchuk, and that he can crack the lineup next season on a permanent basis.
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