Mark Scheifele was a pretty shocking selection at #7 overall, but he looked great at the prospect tournament and he scored two goals in Winnipeg’s first preseason game, leading some people to call for him making the Jets and sticking in the NHL.
What I am at least reasonably sure of is that the Jets are going to keep him up to start the year and give him the full 10 games to show what he can do. But even if he is an absolute monster I hope the Jets don’t judge him by the small sample size, and do the right thing.
Which is sending him back to Barrie.
I don’t see a ton of reasons for keeping him up. The main one, I suppose, is that he wouldn’t develop in the OHL, in a league he already has gotten the hang of, like he would in the NHL. I suppose that’s possible, though I don’t think there is a ton of evidence for that. Scheifele won’t turn 19 until next March, and plenty of players better than him have played in the OHL during their 18/19 year old season. To counter that, I assume that Barrie would gladly let Winnipeg coaches, trainers, etc. be in contact with Scheifele to let him continue his development in exchange for letting him play for Barrie, who finished last in their division last season.
The biggest reason as to why Scheifele should be in Barrie is money. You only get a guy on an ELC for three years, so as a small market team it’s pretty important to get those three years when the player is a key contributor in the NHL. Ideally Winnipeg will get to the point where it is nearly impossible to crack the lineup at 18/19, but for now they have to artificially keep kids down. I suppose, to anticipate another argument, it’s possible that by keeping him down for another year he could get bored and not develop, or he could hold it against the franchise and not re-sign when it comes time.
The first notion I have already refuted, but as to holding it against them and not re-signing, I guess it is possible but I assume that NHLers look at the talent around them and where the team is going in the future when it comes time to sign a contract, and not what happened in the past. To draw an analogy from another sport, guys get held back in baseball to prevent them from being Super 2 Arbitration guys or to delay free agency for a year, and it rarely causes such a rift.
Perhaps the best argument is that keeping Scheifele up this year would result in some poor counting stats, which would likely lead to him being able to get much less on a second contract than if you delay bringing him up for a year. Though the obvious counter argument to that is if he posted meh counting numbers he would probably sign an RFA deal like Bogosian’s, where he didn’t get paid much salary but only for 2 years and then he could cash in afterwards.
The bottom line is by keeping him in the OHL for a year, you get an extra year of Scheifele at the back end, and it won’t hurt the NHL product this year. On the ice the team isn’t going to the playoffs with or without him, so they might as well absolutely suck without him and gun for a top 5 pick. Off the ice, keeping him down (or sucking) won’t have a negative impact due to all the goodwill surrounding the Jets this year. Fans aren’t going to not go to the MTS Centre because Mark Scheifele isn’t there.
He has been great so far, but another year dominating the OHL and playing at the WJC