It is with great pride, and little bit of trepidation, that I take on the season recap for one of my many whipping boys on the Winnipeg Jets, Mark Scheifele. Chevy's first ever draft pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Scheifele has slowly but surely seen improvement over his years since he was taken before Sean Couturier, but whether or not that improvement has been quick enough for some (such as me) is the question.
With the departure of Olli Jokinen last summer, Scheifele was handed the second-line centre role right out of camp and remained there for the entire season. Playing in all 82 games, he set career highs in goals (15), assists (34) and points (49). Not that any of this should be surprising, as it was only his second season and he was hurt in year one. And these numbers were pretty solid. He did achieve the 15 goals with a shooting percentage of 8.8% versus getting 13 goals while shooting 13% last season.
Of his 49 total points this year, 36 of them came at even-strength, which is also pretty good. But for a guy who averaged 2:24/g on the power-play and has a rep as being a playmaker who thrives when given time and space, his 13 points there left a little to be desired. And out of all of his 34 assists, 19 of them were secondary, which was tied for the team lead with Dustin Byfuglien. I realize that all points count, but when well over 50% of a playmakers assists aren't primary?
At least "Bambi Legs" drew a bunch of penalties this year by falling down...
A look at the HERO chart above shows that his results on the scoresheet weren't quite on par with his ice-time or his underlying numbers, as his SOG/60 leaves much to be desired for a top-6 center. In fact, only his A/60 matched up with his spot in the lineup, and since well over half of his assists were secondary? Welp. However, those underlying numbers in both shot generation and suppression do offer a solid dose of optimism.
Mark Scheifele is the second-line centre for the Jets for the foreseeable future, as his offensive potential pretty much certainly has him pegged there behind Bryan Little. However, when Paul Maurice had last change in Games 3 & 4 against the Ducks, it was Adam Lowry who was pushed up the lineup to get Scheifele away from both Getzlaf and Kesler.
"You know, I'm still a little kid," is a quote that Mark gave after the season was over, which I found to be a very interesting statement. While there's no doubt that the 22-year-old needs to build some lower-body strength, he's going to need to start producing more soon if he's to live up to the hype of being the "best centre taken in the 2011 draft". Especially if actual kids like 20-year-old Sean Monahan are able to put up better numbers up the middle in the same Western Conference.
His possession stats are good and he was able to drive the play forward as a 22-year-old top-6 centre in the tough Central Division. That is very good. But for him to take the next step, one where he won't need to be sheltered from other top centres in the West when the games really matter, he'll need to see Gary Roberts this summer and not skip any leg days.
Speaking of leg workouts, and the aforementioned Couturier...
Hopefully Mark Scheifele watched Sean Couturier win the Player-of-the-Game award for Canada today WHILE doing a leg workout. #motivation— Ryan Blight (@arby_18) May 11, 2015