To put it simply, Mark Scheifele is simply not ready to play a full NHL season in his rookie season.
Head coach of the Winnipeg Jets Claude Noel decided that it would be more beneficial for the 18 year old rookie to have another go in junior playing for the Barrie Colts. "It's a men's league," Noel said when talking about his decision; "I think his game is still good," Noel said. "He's a good player. I think he's going to be a tremendous player. I don't think anything has changed. I think the league... it's a men's league."
The choice of sending him back to junior was a good choice. In Barrie with the Colts, he will get a chance to be a key player in the success of the Colts; instead of being a 3rd or 4th line player, and getting discouraged with the lack of ice time and his team losing. Scheifele will likely dominate in junior, after a first season success with 22 goals and 75 points in 66 games. The most important point that everyone seems to be forgetting is now Scheifele will be eligible to play for team Canada at the Junior tournament in December. If Scheifele wins a championship with the improved Barrie Colts, wins a scoring championship or an MVP and a gold medal at the WJC, that will give him all confidence he needs to excel at the NHL level. With the experience he will gain will be perfect for him. Jets and the Jets fans have seen just enough of Scheifele to be excited about his future with the team, we may even see Scheifele back in a Jets uniform near the end of the season. "We were very, very ecstatic about him coming in, the way he played in Penticton, what he did in the exhibition season and the way he handled himself at the NHL level in the regular season," he said. "He showed that he thinks the game very well. He's very responsible defensively, which at this stage of his career is a very, very good sign."
Scheifele was 3 games away from his NHL contract kicking in. If a player plays 10 NHL games, he is automatically getting paid and entry level contract no matter how games the player plays in the NHL. Plus it counts as a full season. That fact probably weighed heavily with the decision to demote Scheifele to junior.
Scheifele is a little small, and needs to put on some weight during his stay in junior, to get bigger to handle the rough physical play of the grown men in the NHL. “He’s a humble person. He worked hard,” Cheveldayoff said. “He took nothing for granted from the moment he stepped into the locker-room at rookie camp. Scheifele took the demotion in stride, and kept his smile all the way out the door. Don`t feel to bad for the rookie, his 17 day stay in Winnipeg earned him $85,000.
With Sceifele being sent down, it leaves only 5 players from the entry draft in June still around with their respective teams; C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton, LW Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado, D Adam Larsson, New Jersey, C Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa and C Sean Couturier, Philadelphia. My guess is Mika Zibanejad will be the next to join Scheifele in junior. Zibanejad is having much of the start that Scheifele had, having scored just 1 point in 8 games.