For the second straight season the Winnipeg Jets have sent Mark Scheifele back to junior.
According to TSN.ca, the 19-year-old forward was reassigned Wednesday to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
Scheifele was the first player to be drafted by the new Winnipeg franchise. He was selected seventh overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft and scored one goal in seven games last season before being sent back to Barrie. This season, Scheifele was held off the scoresheet in all four of his appearances.
Despite his lack of production and another short stay in the NHL, it is still too early to say that the Jets made a mistake drafting Scheifele. Not all early draft picks are ready to step into the NHL immediately and more time in junior should be beneficial for Scheifele’s development.
If he had stayed in Winnipeg Scheifele would likely continue to see limited ice time during most games and take a seat in the press box during others. In four games, Scheifele was averaging just 11:31 in ice time and was moved from his regular position at center to right wing.
In Barrie he will play top line minutes on a team that has the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs. He will also have the opportunity to consistently play in a variety of game situations including on the power play, penalty kill, late in close games, etc.
On top of that, Scheifele will be coached by Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, who knows the pressures of being a first-round draft pick in Winnipeg as he was selected first overall by the Jets in the 1981 NHL entry draft. Hawerchuk will help Scheifele continue to develop as both a player and a leader.
Scheifele is currently fifth on the Colts in scoring and second in plus/minus, despite already missing 20 games. He should continue where he left off and have a huge impact on the team as the season progresses.
At this point there is no need for Winnipeg to rush Scheifele if he isn’t ready. The Jets should remain in the playoff hunt throughout the season, while Scheifele will improve and build confidence at the junior level.
Winnipeg fans and the Jets organization need to continue to be patient and hope Schiefele is ready to be a regular in the lineup next season.