Mark Scheifele was one of six returnees to earn an invite to Team Canada’s national junior team selection camp, which opens next week in Calgary.
Scheifele, the seventh overall selection of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is the lone Winnipeg Jets’ prospect to make the list of 37 invitees.
The skilled centre is having a great season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (21 goals, 45 points, 27 games) and Scheiefle is expected to play a big role for Canada at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia later this month and into January.
Columnist Paul Friesen caught up with Scheifele and here’s the story:
I spoke with Scheifele a few weeks ago as well and it’s apparent he feels like there’s a bit of unfinished business to take care of when he pulls on the Maple Leaf again.
That bronze medal didn’t feel right and Scheifele is determined to bring home a gold this time around.
I expect him to play an important offensive role and there has been some speculation from Bob McKenzie of TSN that Scheifele might find himself playing on the top line (on right wing) with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jonathan Huberdeau.
Who knows what’s going to happen with line combinations, but given the brand of hockey we saw played at the world junior tournament during the last lockout in Grand Forks, N.D., you can be sure the experience will serve Scheifele well going forward.
There was probably a tinge of disappointment for several other Jets’ prospects on Monday, as 2012 third rounder Scott Kosmachuk and 2011 third rounder Adam Lowry didn’t make the grade.
Kosmachuk, who is off to a strong start with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, was in tough because he’s more of a Top-6 forward and a lot of those spots are spoken for already, given the talent available because of the lockout.
Kosmachuk told me last week his focus was on his junior club and it will be important for him to put those words into action.
Lowry, the captain of the Swift Current Broncos, would have garnered some attention for a spot on the 4th line, but simply found himself the victim of the numbers game — despite playing playing well in the Subway Series against Russia.
I spoke with Lowry a few weeks ago and he’s a very mature individual, so I don’t expect him to have any drop-off to his game.
Lukas Sutter, the Saskatoon Blades centre who was chosen 39th overall by the Jets in 2012, may have been on the radar at one point (as he played for Canada this past summer in the Canada/Russia series) but he’s had a tough start to the WHL season with only three goals, six points and a -13 rating in 27 games.
I wonder if the fact he’s no longer in the mix will spark Sutter to try and return to the form that saw him post 28 goals, 59 points and 165 penalty minutes with a plus-15 rating for the Blades, who will host the Memorial Cup in May.
Speaking of disappointment, it was a tough day for Manitoba players as not one individual from the keystone province garnered an invite. Tried to do a little research on the issue and by our calculations (not scientific), the last time Manitoba didn’t have a player on the roster was way back in 2002.
Brandon Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock was expected to get a chance but he’s been hurt (though I was told he’s expected back in action fairly soon) and the talented blue-liner was bypassed this time around.
Canada has a lot of depth on the back end with the likes of 2011 first rounders Dougie Hamilton (9th, Bruins) and Ryan Murphy (12th, Hurricanes) and 2012 first rounders Griffin Reinhart (4th, Islanders), Morgan Rielly (5th, Maple Leafs), Matthew Dumba (7th, Wild) and Derrick Pouliot (8th, Penguins) among those expected to lead the way on the back end.
One final note, Jets’ 2012 first rounder Jacob Trouba is expected to be among the preliminary roster Team USA unveils on Tuesday.