Mark Scheifele started this season off as the Jets number one centre and nothing he did made that change. With or without Bryan Little being healthy, Scheifele was a key to the Jets having an offensively gifted centre. The fact that Scheifele is better when Little is healthy should not be held against him. Little is a different animal when it comes to providing stability to a young top six.
Back to Scheifele. He has set another career high in points and did so with inconsistent linemates and a team that struggled on the powerplay all season. He also did this while playing for a team that lacked clear tactics for getting the puck out of the zone cleanly. All these factors make scoring harder on forwards. However, Scheifele was able to score at over a point per game clip and be in the top ten in scoring. Both of these are major accomplishments.
As you can see, Scheifele struggled to drive possession at various points this season. Oddly enough, his greatest struggles did not come when Bryan Little was injured. Based on the improvements that Laine showed throughout this season, it is possible that Scheifele’s dip in possession happened when he was paired with Laine before Laine had fully adjusted to the NHL. Nevertheless, Scheifele has managed to distinguish himself on a team that had inconsistent lines and weaker forwards playing up in the lineup to help their trade value.
At the end of the day, Scheifele had a remarkable season that was somewhat lost in the Jets woeful inability to capitalize on having so many strong offensive players. If he keeps up his play, and he should, he will be a cornerstone for the Jets franchise while allowing for Little to move quietly into the number two centre role without the Jets missing a beat. They need that and Scheifele’s emergence has led to this.
All that said, do not be disappointed of his goal scoring declines next season as his shooting percentage was about 6% higher than his career average, but if he plays with good linemates and in the right situations his point production should remain high. Above all, Scheifele has shown that he is a really good centre for the Jets and while he was seen as a reach of a pick when he was drafted, he has clearly turned out well.
Mark Scheifele showed himself to be a nice player this year. He successfully built off of previous campaigns and while his goal total might regress, his skillset is clearly strong enough that even a regression in goals means he will still be a top centre in the NHL. However, next season there is no Drew Stafford to saddle him with and hopefully the Andrew Copp as a top six player experiment is put to rest. Scheifele is the Jets best scoring centre and there are no two ways about it.