WINNIPEG – Mark Scheifele’s second shot at cracking the Winnipeg Jets’ lineup has ended like the first, with a return ticket to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League for a little more seasoning.
Scheifele, who was selected by the Jets with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, did not record a point in four NHL games this season.
But Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff says he still has confidence in the 19-year-old, who was a top performer with Barrie and an important part of Canada’s world junior team as well.
“Every challenge that he’s had in front of him he’s met and I’m very, very confident that he’s going to meet the challenges ahead of him with the Jets organization,” he said Wednesday, after breaking the news to Scheifele.
Cheveldayoff said Scheifele took the news that he was going back to junior like a professional.
“You want to play at the highest level as fast as you can but he certainly understood it,” he said.
Cheveldayoff added that like all teams, the Jets had trouble evaluating players prior to the start of the season with a compressed camp and no exhibition games.
But he also had a little good news Wednesday, announcing the Jets were expecting defenceman Zach Bogosian to return soon after his off-season wrist surgery.
“I think he’ll start skating with the team here in short order, which will be an exciting development you know for us and for Zach,” Cheveldayoff said. “I think he’s certainly champing at the bit to get out there and has looked good in the injured reserve skates.”
The Jets have gone to their AHL farm team to replace Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien, another top defenceman out with an injury.
It has meant a lot of ice time for Paul Postma and, over the last three games, for Zach Redmond. Postma was already expecting to play in Winnipeg this season after signing a one-way contract last summer, but he stayed with the St. John’s IceCaps because of the lockout.
Redmond, 24, got his first NHL point Tuesday night and then added another as he helped set up the game-winning goal in a 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers.
“I was just trying to get the line,” he said of the game winner, which came as he skated past the Panthers’ bench and had to ignore a little heckling.
“Actually, their whole bench was telling me I was out of time and so I didn’t really know who to trust, but I saw (Little) flying through the middle so I just tried to pop him a pass and he had a great shot on the goal.”
The 4-4-1 Jets will meet the 5-5-0 Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night in Winnipeg.
There was no update Wednesday on when Byfuglien might return, but coach Claude Noel has said he doesn’t expect it to be a long-term absence.
Cheveldayoff said he was delighted at the success the young stand-ins have had. Postma, 23, has five points in his nine games so far this season.
“You try and look for the silver linings in the different situations we’re faced with right now and with Byfuglien going down and Bogosian not being available you have to turn to some people to step their games up.
“The fact that two young players in Redmond and Postma have been able to fill minutes, contribute, and play well … it’s a nice thing to be able to see.”