Mark Scheifele was recently voted as the 12th-best centre right now in the National Hockey League by NHL Network on Nov. 15, 2020. The other players in the 10-14 spot included Mika Zibanejad, Aleksander Barkov, Sebastian Aho, and John Tavares. This put him three spots down from the No. 9 spot that he secured in 2019.
Scheifele has had a great career with the Jets so far, as he has been the club’s first-line centre for years and hopes to secure that spot for the future. This article takes a look at his career in the league so far, how he can improve, and why he has moved down on the top centres list.
Scheifele’s Outstanding Career
Scheifele was the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 first draft pick since relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Since being the seventh-overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft, he has had a great career with the club.
He was a project that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets were willing to take on, and ultimately did it well. He did not join the team until the 2013-14 season, as he went back to play for Jets legend and Barrie Colts head coach, Dale Hawerchuck.
In Junior, he was well over a point-per-game player and showed the Jets management that he was ready to take the step and become a full-time NHL player. In his first three seasons in the league, he put up 144 points and was continuously growing as a player on and off of the ice for the Jets.
The 2016-17 season is when Scheifele really hit his stride as a player, as he put up 82 points in 79 games. Every season since then, he has been a point-per-game player or better for the club. He has worn the alternate captaincy and has secured himself as the Jets first-line centre.
No. 9 to No. 12?
Scheifele ultimately moved down a few spots in the top centre rankings from 2019 to 2020. Maybe its because he missed some games due to injury, maybe he has not become a better offensive player, or maybe he has just become less important on the team with the improvement of other forwards such as Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.
Many people may have their reasons, but the fact is that Scheifele has not gotten worse as a player, other players have just gotten better. When you look at the list in 2019 it had some players below Scheifele that were above him on the 2020 rankings.
Zibanejad was not even on the 2019 rankings, but an outstanding 2019-20 season secured the No. 10 spot on the list for him. He put up 75 points in 57 games and it was hard to not put the New York Rangers’ first-line centre on the list.
Jack Eichel moved from spot 15 in 2019 all the way to No. 6 in 2020. This was bound to happen at some point, as the young star has consistently improved and is going to be a top centre in the league for years to come.
Brayden Point also moved up in the rankings from No. 10 in 2019 to No. 9 in 2020. He has been a force for the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and is a top-10 centre in the league in many people’s rankings.
Scheifele has been a great player for the Jets and will be for the rest of his career, but the improvement of younger players pushed him back on the 2020 rankings.
How He Can Improve
Every player in the NHL has one way or another that they can improve and everyone has an opinion on what that is. Scheifele is the all-around player, as he can play both offensively and defensively on the ice, and can lead by example for the Jets.
One thing that the eighth-year centre could improve on would be his faceoffs. He was a 46% faceoff man last year and that needs to improve if he wants to be on the ice during all the big moments in the game.
A player that he should try and model his game after is Central Division St. Louis Blues opponent, Ryan O’Reilly. He has been a force for the Blues since joining them in the trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He produces offensively and also is a great defensive player. He has been a 56% faceoff winner for the past two seasons and takes important draws for the Blues.
Scheifele is a great player for the Jets and has many amazing qualities, but an improvement in his defensive game and his faceoffs could slot him top-10 in next year’s centre rankings.
In the 2020-21 season, he will look to put his team on his back to help the Jets make the playoffs and hopefully lead them to a deep playoff run for the 2021 Stanley Cup.