WINNIPEG - Mark Scheifele has done everything in his power to start his pro career as an 18-year-old with the Winnipeg Jets — except sign his name on the dotted line.
Scheifele ended his first NHL pre-season in dramatic fashion on Friday night, potting the game-tying goal at 13:07 of the third period to force overtime before the Jets fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Nashville Predators before a crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.
The 7th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft finishes with four goals and eight points in five games but must sign his entry-level contract before Tuesday afternoon in order to start the season in the NHL.
Does Scheiefele feel he did enough to stick around, at least for the start of the regular season?
“It’s not in my hands anymore. I worked my hardest and I’m happy with my effort,” he said. “I don’t really understand the whole contract thing. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I trust my agent will do what’s best for me so hopefully something can get done.
“I want to be here so bad. I hope I can stick around.”
An email to Scheifele’s agent, Robert Hooper, wasn’t returned on Friday.
Scheifele has impressed his would-be teammates.
“How many points does he have? Eight,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “I think he’s done enough. It seems like every game he seems to come up big but it’s the little things he does away from the puck that a lot of people don’t realize how mature he is for his age.
“That makes him stand out to me and he’s made it a tough decision on management. I wouldn’t count him out on being here for Oct. 9.”
“I haven’t seen a performance like this from anyone in pre-season, let alone from an 18-year-old. It’s amazing to think when you watch him out there that he’s 18-years-old,” added Jets centre Bryan Little. “He’s got poise and patience for a guy that’s been in the league for a long time. It’s hard to imagine him not being here. It’s up to the big guys, but he’s done everything he can.”
Scheifele impressed his head coach as well.
“I absolutely love the kid and I think our whole organization does,” said Jets bench boss Claude Noel.
“Look at the stats from the league. He’s a pretty good player. I’ve seen enough to know that over the course of games that I’ve watched him that he’s an excellent player and I don’t only look at what he presents, in terms of skill. It’s his mind that’s so sharp.”