The NHL Jets version 1.0 were handcuffed coming into the league, and after giving up a lot of their best players in the league merger draft, they were picking 19th in the first round. GM John Ferguson surprised everyone by going "off script" and picking a little known forward named Jimmy Mann...
Fast forward 32 years later and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff went up to the podium, with 7th pick overall and chose Mark Sheifele who was known, but not ranked in the top 10 by most scouts. Coincidence? Is history repeating itself?
It's actually quite puzzling why Couturier went from consensus #1 pick down to #8. The Jets who were lacking size, speed, and offensive talent passed up on a 6'4" 190 lb speedster who lit up the QMJHL. Instead they picked Scheifele who's main claim to fame was that he starred at the under-18 tournament, and that his coach was none other than Dale Hawerchuck (bow head in reverence...)
Jimmy Mann was chosen not because he was skilled, or fast, nor did he possess any real attributes other than the fact that he was tough as nails - much like the General Manager who picked him. He was the GM's pet project. Is Scheifele turning out to be Cheveldayoff's pet project?
Scheifele started the year turning a lot of heads in pre-season. However, once the real season began he started looking more and more like a skinny 18 year old lost on the ice. Just a step too slow, a tad too indecisive... it was obvious he had skills and potential. But he was clearly not ready for the NHL. Returning to Junior he tore up the OHL until the World Junior Championship. There, he was practically invisible. And since his return, his superstar like 2-point per game pace has dropped to a mere moral 1 point per game pace.
Now it's crunch time and Scheifele continues his point a game pace, good for 18th overall in playoff scoring. Is he really the best franchise centre that was available in round 1 at spot #7???
Jimmy Mann obviously wasn't the best pick to be had back in 1979 when he was chosen (Michel Goulet, Kevin Lowe, Neal Broten, Mark Messier, even Thomas Steen were taken after Mann). I hope history is not repeating itself. If 3 yrs down the road we seen Sean Couturier among the league's top 25 scorers and Scheifele is a good prospect almost ready to make the jump from the AHL to the big leagues, then we'll all know how this story ends up...