NHL

Cheveldayoff: Decision on Scheifele making team not made

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TSN.ca Staff
9/29/2011 10:24:50 PM
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Mark Scheifele has been a standout all pre-season long for the Jets, and fans in Winnipeg are wondering if their 18-year-old first-round pick will be with the squad to start the season.

Speaking on TSN's That's Hockey, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said that decision hasn't yet been made.

"We've got one exhibition game left and (Scheifele) is going to get an opportunity to play that," said Cheveldayoff. "Certainly he's been an excitement for not only the fans here in Winnipeg but from the staff's standpoint (as well). But you can never get ahead of yourself; we're going to evaluate things day-by-day and we'll see what tomorrow brings."

Scheifele is leading the league in pre-season scoring with seven points in four games and it's clear that Cheveldayoff is high on the Kitchener, Ontario native. But he did add that just because he's always looking to add talented centres to his team, he isn't going to push Scheifele to play this year if he isn't ready.

"I think every team is looking for centremen; certainly you can never have enough of them," Cheveldayoff. "You build from the defence and the centre position. Again, it's an opportunity to take a look at a young kid, see where he fits in; but you have to do what's right for both the organization and the players' development."

Cheveldayoff also talked about a number of other popular Jets players, including Dustin Byfuglien - perhaps the most popular - and his rock star status in the city.

"(Byfuglien) is a very fun-loving player. I think the fans certainly have fallen in love with him from the moment he stepped on the ice. He had a big hit in the first exhibition game here in Winnipeg and certainly gave the fans a lot to cheer about."

Regarding captain Andrew Ladd, Cheveldayoff said that the 25-year-old offers more than just goals and assists.

"We're ultimately looking for him to be the leader of this team both on and off the ice. That doesn't mean that he has to go out and score every night; he does a lot of things that'll help us be a better team now and in the future."

Along with Scheifele and Byfuglien, another storyline Winnipeg fans are all talking about is the potentially big home ice advantage the Jets could enjoy this season.

Last year, the Thrashers were just a .500 team at home, but leading into this season everyone is guessing how many wins a packed MTS Centre will be worth for the Jets. While Cheveldayoff didn't offer up a guess, he did agree that the environment at home games is great for his players.

"I wish I could put a number on it, I don't know that anybody truly can. But I do know that the atmosphere is electric," said Cheveldayoff. "The atmosphere was fun, the players are enjoying being embraced by the fans night in and night out, and if it gives them a little bit of a boost, that'll be great."

Cheveldayoff added that his team is thinking post-season this year, but that he won't risk the future to make that happen.

"The objective is to make the playoffs and obviously we all know that any team that makes the playoffs can make a long, deep run, but the big picture is patience as well because things don't happen overnight."

Mark Scheifele  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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