I was a little stunned and unhappy when Mika Zibanejad was taken by Ottawa right before our pick; I really think Zibanejad is going to make some franchise (maybe even Ottawa's!) happy in the future. With centre as one of our big needs, I figured we would end Sean Couturier's 1st round slide. Instead, we brought in centre Mark Scheifele of the Barrie Colts (coincidentally, coached by one Dale Hawerchuk), and admittedly I had to look back at my scouting report on the guy because I didn't expect him to go this high.
Having said that, he's an intriguing pick, a tall player that needs to fill out but plays well at both ends of the ice. Just as important to me, he had a great rookie season in the OHL with a weak team, and had up to this season received very little hype (read: he might be sincerely humble). Let's take a closer look.
|Pronounced "Shy-flea"||188cm (6'2")||83kg (182lbs)|
*projects 10-11 year into an 82-game NHL season **player +/- minus team-average +/-
The recently-turned 18-year old Scheifele played convincing hockey in both the OHL and in the IIHF U18 Championships, putting together an NHLE season good for around 28 points (no small feat for a 17-year old). A bit longer lens should include his season in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League as well; as was the case in Barrie, the Kitchener Dutchmen were a very poor team on which Scheifele stood out.
More on the positives...he plays all situations, powerplay and shorthanded, and for a big guy who uses his body along the boards and in front of the net, he doesn't take a lot of penalties. All the scouting reports gush about his hands and playmaking ability, in addition to a stellar work ethic (according to Barrie assistant GM Jason Ford, he "treats practice like it's a game"). Some of his hand-eye skill comes from playing lacrosse, though it's not necessarily something that would separate him from a pack of Canadian prospects.
Now for the negatives: a common knock on Scheifele is his skating, which is capable but a bit awkward. I've also heard at least one report of him being marginal at the faceoff dot, something that makes me cringe a bit and hope he works on it. These problems aren't the end of the world, but in tandem they tell me we could potentially have a future right winger on our hands rather than a centre (not a problem, as right wing could use some offensive help, too). I'm also a bit concerned about how many of his points last year were powerplay points; you want a guy who can take advantage of those opportunities, but not one whose numbers are inflated by them.
The "golly-gee" interview (with Munz of the ever-dirty-sounding C-job):
The Approval of A Forefather (subtitle: Hawerchuk Touches Scheifele's Shoulders With His Koho):
I think the Jets reached a bit for Scheifele, but unlike other reaches where you go after a guy that wows you with one particular skill and carries some risk (think Tomas Jurco, Victor Rask), we got a guy who looks like he could easily be a solid, any-minutes player in the future (maybe even a pretty good scorer). In closing, we should be patient; he could use another season or two at the OHL/AHL levels to work out some of the kinks (and bulk up a bit more).
Did I mention he likes Taylor Swift? Not sure if any amount of seasoning will help that.