Mark Scheifele: A Jet Awaiting Takeoff (in-depth analysis)
Scheifele was drafted seventh overall in the 2011 and is currently in the midst of his third full season with Winnipeg Jets. He is currently having his best season to date having already put up a career high in goals despite having only played 61 games. Even though he is also well on his way to a career high in points it is not that impressive as he will still likely finish with less than 50 points this season. The situation in Winnipeg is changing though and recently with the injury to Bryan Little Scheifele has shown that there is reason to believe that he can be a lot more if given the opportunity. The injury to Little is not career ending so next year could be return to the status quo so this column will look at how much of Scheifele’s success without Little in the lineup is a sign of big things to come next year and how much a return to the status quo can be expected.
The status quo in Winnipeg for Scheifele is playing second fiddle behind Bryan Little. When Little is healthy that means 17 minutes per game for Scheifele including two and a half minutes on the power play. Two and a half minutes per game would not be that bad except that those minutes are exclusively with the second unit meaning that the amount of production that Scheifele gets out of his power play time is severely reduced. The combination of the lower overall minutes per game and the second-rate power play is a significant drag on his value. This undercuts Scheifele’s elite production rate at even strength, which is tenth overall in the NHL this year, eighth amongst players who have played more than 50 games. Even his production at even strength before Little’s injury was top 50 in the league, which would place him second the Jets. Scheifele has achieved this high level of even strength production despite getting worse zone starts than the Little line. Thus despite having a budding defensive specialist in Adam Lowry and a high-end two-way center in Bryan Little, Scheifele still does not get a break in usage. As such he gets none of the benefits that others second lines in a similar situation get, namely a more offense-centric usage (see Patrick Kane and