When the Winnipeg Jets drafted Mark Scheifele seventh overall in June's Entry Draft, it came as a surprise to many given where the 18-year old centerman was projected to go on many lists.
After a training camp where he impressed and earned a spot on the opening night roster, Scheifele has struggled since, netting just one goal through seven games with the Jets off to a 2-4-1 start.
On Sunday, the team decided to sent Scheifele back to Barrie of the OHL with the 9-game rookie limit approaching.
As Scheifele got off to a slow start, his time on ice diminished. Averaging a little more than 13 minutes through Winnipeg's first three games, Scheifele played just a bit more than 9 minutes a game in his last four. The Jets could have had Scheifele watch a few games from the press box as the 9-game limit before the entry-level contract kicks in is for the player's games played and not the team's total, but it was becoming clear that another year in junior would serve his development better.
The Scheifele announcement is just the start of a handful of decisions coaches and GMs will be making over the next week or two about the futures of their rookies.
• Ryan Nugent-Hopkins keeps making the decision harder for the Edmonton Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini. After tallying a hat trick last week on Hockey Night in Canada, The Nuge scored on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers. On the season, RNH leads all rookies (and the Oilers) with five goals and seven points. But the one knock on him has been his strength and that's showing in the faceoff department (26.2-percent success rate). It's all about the kids in Edmonton with Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle; why not add Nugent-Hopkins to that group for the rest of the season?
• Through seven games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Sean Couturier has two goals and two assists. But in a Flyers lineup that's pretty stuffed with talent, having him on the roster is, as Geoff Detweiler of SB Nation Philly pointed out, a luxury:
Maybe Couturier is the exception, but carrying another center who either isn't needed in the top-9 or who needs to be protected from other teams' top-9s is an unnecessary risk to take. Couple that with the fact that the Flyers would then have three rookies in their top-9 - Couturier, Schenn, and Read - all of whom would be required to step up and contribute in all areas of the game for 82 games, and that is a lot to ask.
• The same goes for Brett Connolly of the Tampa Bay Lightning (8 GP, 0-2-2, 13:43). While he hasn't lit up the scoresheet, Connolly's been receiving rave reviews, but the question for GM Steve Yzerman will be is the benefit he's currently providing the Lightning (for now) serve him in the long-run in terms of his development?
From the St. Pete Times:
"The one thing is, he's getting better each game. He's looking more comfortable, being more assertive, just getting better," Yzerman said. "At the end of nine games, is he going to keep going this way or is there a bump in the road? It's a bit of an educated guess."
• If you wanted us to pick a Calder Trophy frontrunner after two weeks of the season, we might lean towards Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche. With four goals and five points in eight games, the 18-year old Swede is excelling on an Avs team that's playing very well out of the gate. Landeskog won't have to worry about going back to Kitchener of the OHL. He's here to stay.
• The Ottawa Senators are saying all the right things about Mika Zibanejad (8 GP, 0-1-1, 12:41), but considering the team will be playing towards another lottery pick, would it be better for him to go back to Djurgardens and also get an opportunity to crack the Swedish World Junior team? The Senators aren't the Oilers flushed with young talent in their lineup. With an aging roster in the middle of transition, it might be better for Ottawa to save that year on Zibanejad's contract.
• Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets will get the full 9-game tryout if you believe GM Scott Howson. Through five games, Johansen has only one assist, but played 17:14 -- the most for him this season -- on Saturday against Ottawa where he also recorded his one and only point. The final decision on his future will be made by head coach Scott Arniel who's busy trying to turn around a franchise-worst 0-7-1 start. Is it worth it to burn a year of Johansen's contract to have him aid in attempting a turnaround? And that's just one of the many current concerns in Columbus.
Any other rookies catching your eye or in need of a trip back to juniors?
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