Winnipeg Jet’s Lesson-Never Bet Against Scheifele And Campbell

The friendly bet and some twitter fun –

Hello, friends.  It’s @arby_18, your friendly neighborhood Jets critic.

This piece is being presented to you at Winnipeg Hockey Talk today because I lost a bet to your friend and mine, Mr. Scott Campbell.  The bet?

Yes, I did.  I bet against Mark Scheifele, the chosen one of Jets 2.0, to have less than 55 points last season.  And there are a few reasons why I did that, which I’ll get into shortly.  But before we do, perhaps we should begin with a bit of a disclosure:

Mark Scheifele is a #niceplayer.  He is.  And you’d be hard pressed to find a tweet where I said anything otherwise.  Sure, I’ve had plenty of fun at his expense, especially his propensity to fall down, and yes I’ve stated multiple times that I prefer Sean Couturier as a player.  But none of that changes the fact that Scheif is a good player, it’s just a preference of style of play.  His shot has always been exceptional, and as he’s gotten stronger he’s improved greatly.  And if he keeps on his upward trajectory, he’ll make my opinion look worse every year, especially if Gary Roberts gets him on a leg routine during his summer training.  Though those yearly Selke votes for Coots might’ve looked good in front of Pavelec …

Regardless, back to the bet and why I chose less than 55 points for 55.  Again, it’s not because of a lack of skill or anything silly like that, but instead due to the position he occupied on the Jets roster at the beginning of the season.  He began the season as the clear #2 centre behind Bryan Little, with a green rookie in Nikolaj Ehlers on his wing.  And also, coming off of a playoff appearance the season before, it was widely assumed before the season that the Jets would be in contention for most of the season and that LLW would be the top line.  And they were for most of the season …

But then it hit.  Literally.  When Anton Stralman stood up Bryan Little at the blueline on February 18, 2016, and fractured a vertebrae in the number one centers’ neck, it did two things.  One, it effectively ended the season for the local hockey franchise, but more importantly for this piece, two, it made Mark Scheifele the #1 center for the rest of the season.  And what an end to the season he had.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Leading the league in points down the stretch is clearly very impressive, regardless of the games being played in garbage time.  I mean, the splits from before and after that Little injury are stark:

29 points in the first 46 games (13g & 16a)
32 points in the final 25 games (16g & 16a)

Through the first 46 games he played, he was on a 51.7 point pace projected over 82.  And then boom, he switched to a 104.96 point pace down the stretch (again, projected over 82 games).  So what was it?  The fact that he became the #1 centre with Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers?  Surely that had lots to do with it.  But also, was he and the rest of his team playing pressure-free thanks to garbage time hockey down the stretch in another lost season?  It’s hard for me to imagine that this had absolutely zero to do with it.  But make no mistake, only #niceplayer’s put up those kind of numbers.

Just over a calendar year from being demoted to the 3rd-line in the Anaheim playoff series, Mark Scheifele inked an 8-year mega-extension worth $49 million dollars ($6.125m per season).  What remains to be seen is which player the Jets will get going forward.  Is a 51.7 p/82 2nd-line center worth that much money? Probably not.  Is a 104.96 p/82 top-line center worth it?  Absolutely.  And if he becomes something in the middle?  Then something just north of $6m should be a nice deal for a long time.

So I guess we’ll see what happens next year.  Despite Paul Maurice saying that Bryan Little is his #1 center on 1290 to end this past season, it is widely assumed that Scheifele will take top-line duties, and with a few highly skilled wingers to choose from in Wheeler, Ehlers, Laine and maybe Perreault, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to put up big numbers.  But until the games actual mean something,  I’m hesitant to anoint him a #1 centre until he can put up these really solid numbers when the games actually mean something, which thanks to Pavelec they really haven’t all that much.

But will I bet against Scheifele hitting 55 points next year?  No chance.  Unless Thorburn ends up on his wing, of course.



  1. I have a hard time with 1st center 2nd center arguments. There is no comparison between Courtier and Schiefele. Schiefele is the better offensive player and just as good defensively. The Jets made the smart pick.

  2. Mitch Kasprick says

    I am a huge Mark Scheifele fan and I am also not ready to anoint him as the #1 center quite yet …. for me it’s all about consistency and his progression which are definitely trending in the right direction. Scheif has been working hard to be better in the face-off circle as well and that is the next step to being a true #1.

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