Now I know Arby wants to see some exciting hockey this year and having Scheifele on the team would probably help out with that. But given that Arby also had to buy five years worth of season tickets, I have a feeling that the Jets are thinking long-term, which means that Scheifele won't make the team.
I think we're all honest here about the Jets' chances this season. This was a bad team in Atlanta last year, and they haven't added a whole lot of wins since they moved. Not that that's a bad thing - Florida added a handful of wins in the free agent market and paid ridiculous sums of money to do so. At any rate, the Jets' plan seems to be to have an outside shot at making the playoffs...But more of a chance of finishing dead last in the league. And when you're looking at a season like that, it's not one that you want to waste a year of Scheifele on. It's rare to have an 18-year-old, ready or not,
be ready for play in the NHL - here are the recent ones:
2010 - Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Burmistrov, Cam Fowler
2009 - John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Evander Kane, Dimitry Kulikov
2008 - Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn, Josh Bailey, Mikkel Boedker, Luca Sbisa
I may be missing a couple of guys, but here's the key stat: these 17 players combined for
20 26 playoff games at age 18; 14 13 of them played zero playoff games in their first season. The four three who played in the playoffs were Cam Fowler, Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene and Luca Sbisa - and only Duchene and Fowler dressed for all of their team's games. Other than arguably Seguin, there was simply no value to having these kids on the team. For the most part, they had to be kept away from the other team's best players, and their results were poor. And Atlanta, with a #3 pick and two #4 picks, basically finished at most a couple of points higher in the standings than they would have otherwise, but nowhere within sniffing distance of the playoffs.
This matters because teams don't have a big window before their young stars get expensive. Burning a year of an entry-level contract so that an 18-year-old can play on a bad team is not a good idea if your strategy is to have that 18-year-old still be on your team when he's 24 and putting the puck in the net. This isn't such a big deal for high-revenue teams like Toronto or the Rangers, but Winnipeg will consistently spend near the salary floor, so they can't afford any of their players getting expensive before their time. Atlanta made sure Bogosian, Kane and Burmistrov will cost just a bit more by the time this team is competitive, and that's something the Jets should try not to do with Scheifele.
Next time: we'll discuss why you shouldn't trade two first round picks, including the one that ended up being Bogosian, for 18 games of Keith Tkachuk.