At the start of the 2013 season, the Winnipeg Jets' most discussed news story has been the roster status of Mark Scheifele.
Scheifele, you see, had been recalled from the OHL's Barrie Colts to join Winnipeg's training camp almost two weeks ago, affording him a roster spot which he is desperately clinging to like the kitty on the 'Hang in there, baby!' poster.
With the fourth game of his 5-game trial period slated for tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg is atwitter over whether or not he'll stick around for another forty-four games.
And the answer, my friends, is no.
This viewpoint shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. Gary Lawless wrote a column on it before the season even opened.
And he's right.
Now, in Scheifele's defense, he hasn't been a detriment to the team in his limited action. Far from it, actually. There is no magic formula that states a player being returned to junior necessarily makes him more ready for the pros one year later. But if you want to play the odds, they dictate that Scheifele benefits by resuming his career development with the Barrie Colts of the OHL rather than serving as hockey's equivalent of a paper-weight between the offensively gifted duo of Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn.
To Claude Noel's credit, he has tried to get his top prospect more involved by bumping him up a unit to play alongside another former Colt in Alexander Burmistrov. However, increased ice-time wasn't part of the equation. I can't fathom a scenario in which a 19-year old player averages less than 10:00 TOI and sees an improvement from it.
There have been opportunities for Noel to increase his rookie's offensive role, as Winnipeg has developed the deft trait of drawing penalties at a high rate. Through three games, Scheifele has averaged a stingy 45 seconds of man-advantage ice time.
Winnipeg Jets have to make a decision on Mark Scheifele
Arctic Ice Hockey | Jan 24