Mark Scheifele is the first Winnipeg Jets draft selection since the move to the Canadian prairies and the first selection made under the guidance of Kevin Cheveldayoff. He has been passed by Trouba but still remains a top selection and moves up into the 5th spot for the Jets top 25 under 25. This spot was almost unanimous, with only two voters selecting otherwise.
Previous Rank: #8
Everyday I'm Scheifelin'
In 2010 the Saginaw Spirit traded rights to Mark Scheifele and a pick to the Barrie Colts for a goaltender. That moment has shaped the future of the Jets. Scheifele at that was considering going to Cornell University, but former Jet and new coach of the Barrie Colts Dale Hawerchuk convinced Scheifele otherwise. Instead he played his draft year as a rookie in the OHL. Scheifele came second in his team in both assists and points, only placing behind an overager. His assists were the most of any OHL rookie that season and he was rewarded with a 2nd All-Rookie Team selection. Scheifele's draft year 1.14 points per game is only below Evander Kane, Eric O`Dell and Nicolas Petan out of the whole top 25 under 25 list. Scheifele also found a lot of success on Team Canada's U18 squad where he led the team's forwards in points and points per game.
This success caused Scheifele to be one of the biggest risers in most 3rd party draft lists, when comparing pre, mid and post season consensus. He was selected in the draft by the Winnipeg Jets at 7th overall, the first draft pick in Jets 2.0 history. In the fall Mark had a very successful pre-season, raising expectations of some Jets fans. Some knew to not expect instant success. Scheifele's strengths at that time were all cerebral while physically he was still underdeveloped. His tall and lanky frame with awkward skating stride caused him to be easily caught off balanced, and therefor not ready yet for the NHL.
Scheifele then returned to the OHL after his first taste of the NHL. He joined what became one of the most dominate lines in the OHL that season with Tanner Pearson and Ivan Telegin. Scheifele's points per game played improved although was the lowest of the three (although the space between Mark and Ivan was only 0.05). Unfortunately lead scorer Pearson broke his leg on the final game of the regular season and the Colts failed to make it past the second round. In the playoffs Mark was second in points and first in goals for the team.
Scheifele then went to gain some pro experience over at the AHL with the IceCaps who were on a playoff run of their own. Mark played a limited role in order to not disrupt things but still picked up a point playing 10 games on the third line. Scheifele also played on the bronze medal winning U20 team, where Mark finished a point per game player.
With the NHL lockout in process, Scheifele returned to Barrie for a third season. He formed some solid chemistry with new linemates Zach Hall and Anthony Camara. Scheifele's 1.76 points per a game played was second in the entire OHL. He also lead the OHL in playoff points and assists. Scheifele was injured which may have been the turning point of the playoffs, as the Barrie Colts were ultimately defeated after leading the series 3-1 at one point and also were leading in game 7 until the very last second of play.
In the winter Scheifele played on the top line for Team Canada's U20 team again. The team disappointingly did not medal, ultimately due to lack of contribution from secondary scoring. The year prior Team Canada had 11 players with at least a point per a game (ie: 6 points); this time Ryan Strome was only non-top line player to post 6 points. Scheifele led the team in goals, shots, and game winning goals, while playing out of position, on the right wing. When Scheifele returned from the WJC, the NHL had returned back to business. Scheifele again only played a short period with the Jets. Scheifele's usage though was interesting, as he was predominately deployed in the defensive zone, often with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn.
Possession, Kane and Hope
I got a lot of flack on twitter for saying this once: when it comes to the on-ice results, most Jets fans are hoping for Scheifele to do what Burmistrov already did. Many Jets fans are hoping that Scheifele 1) posts legitimate top 6 points when he is in the top 6 and 2) be a centre that makes Evander Kane a better player. This is all true.
Luckily it seems that Scheifele has done well with Kane. Scheifele's most common linemate over the past two seasons combined has been Kane, and together they have done well posting a Zone Start Adjusted 54.7% Corsi. Unfortunately the ~100 minute sample size doesn't make anything conclusive... but there is at least very real and valid hope.
Interestingly enough, the most successful line Scheifele has ever been on was when he was playing with both Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov at the same time.
Point Projections and Reasonable Expectations
Using NHL equivalent of points per game played, we can use Scheifele's junior production to project his most likely NHL production will be. His 1.76 OHL points per a game played is consistent with a player who scores at a 0.53 points per a game in the NHL the following year. Playing all 82 games, this would work out to 43 points. Although, it should be noted that the projection's accuracy is highly dependent on usage. Quality of teammates, zone starts and power play time are heavily influenced by coaching and can create large changes to a players production. With centres Olli Jokinen and Bryan Little on the team, there could be a limit in some of those factors at times. We can try an additional method to take a closer look.
Using the same method used in a previous article regarding Jokinen, we can better approximate the 5v5 points we'd expect given similar scoring chance output. What we do is look at the the amount of shot attempts the team makes when Scheifele was on the ice with Kane. We then look at the scope of average on-ice sh%, point share and ice time for both 2nd and 3rd line players. With these we can make a reasonable prediction of an upper limit of 32 5v5 points with 100% time on the second line and a upper limit of 18 points with 100% on the 3rd line.
This is quite a large gap, which unfortunately is rarely considered by fans. The affects of lower ice time, lower quality of teammates and less offensive role moving from 2nd to 3rd line substantially lowers the reasonable point production of a player.
For context, here is the 5v5 production of some who have played on the second line for at least part of the season in 2011-12:
- Alexander Burmistrov 21 points
- Nik Antropov 23 points
- Mike Richards 20 points
- Teemu Selanne 32 points
- Brandon Sutter 23 points
- Nathan Horton 23 points
- David Clarkson 26 points
- Dany Heatley 27 points
- Jaromir Jagr 29 points
- Alexei Ponikarovsky 24 points
Not meaning to be negative, but sometimes we have too high of expectations for secondary scorers. Secondary scorers are missing the juicy usage, power play time and also even strength time to make giant point totals. While second line players get power play time, it is rare for third line players to get much at all, so their points are predominately the ones they gain in even strength situations.
Remember Jet fans, we are hoping Jokinen doesn't play on the point for the power play, meaning he will be likely taking one of the forward power play spots, and it's unlikely Scheifele unthrones one of Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.
Sometimes players get lucky though. For fun I reran the data with Nazeem Kadri's very fortunate 2012-13 on-ice Sh%. This pushes the upper limit up to 46 points... good luck Toronto on that repeating.
The Future... of the Jets
Scheifele is as proven a player coming out of junior can be. It is extremely unlikely that he doesn't peek as a legitimate top 6 player. The big question is whether Scheifele can be a true #1 centre, as the current shape of the Jets core relies on this desperately. Scheifele has continuously improved and shut his critics up. Will he do it again?
The Jets' current roster shape looks to be constructed with the mindset of Scheifele successfully making the jump to the NHL this season. Whether he lands predominately on the second or third line is controlled by both himself and Claude Noel.