Jets' decision on Scheifele looms

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 PM ET

To this point, the Mark Scheifele story has been filled mostly with happy endings.

And barring a complete and unexpected breakdown in negotiations between the Winnipeg Jets and Scheifele’s agent Rob Hooper, there should be plenty more to come for the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Both sides fully understand the clock is ticking and Tuesday’s 4 p.m. CT deadline to get an entry-level contract done is fast approaching.

From where we sit, we can’t imagine a deal not getting done, since there’s too much at stake for both Scheifele and the Jets.

To date, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has proven his mettle when it comes to getting important deals done, so he’s earned the benefit of the doubt on this one.

For those keeping score at home, he’s 3-for-3 when it comes to hitting his deadlines with a trio of restricted free agents.

Captain Andrew Ladd showed his commitment by signing on the dotted line for a five-year extension, forward Blake Wheeler agreed to a two-year deal to avoid arbitration and, just before training camp opened, defenceman Zach Bogosian inked a two-year deal.

Which brings us back to Scheifele, who’s basically been sporting a huge grin on his face since the moment his name was called at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on June 24.

Scheifele wowed scouts and fans alike with his dominant performance at the 2011 Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. and his encore during main camp was even more impressive.

With four goals and eight points in five games, Scheifele continued to turn heads and it wasn’t just the ability to produce offensively that set him apart.

He’s got tremendous hockey sense and continually puts himself in the right spot. At times, the puck seems to follow him around.

Sure, he needs to continue to get stronger and grow into his frame. There are plenty of lessons to learn and improvements to be made as the process moves along.

Nobody knows for sure if Scheifele can sustain the early pace when the bright lights come on and the real games begin but that’s the beauty of the debate.

What’s clear is that Scheifele has earned the opportunity to be in the lineup for opening night and his play will ultimately dictate how long he sticks around.

In order for that to happen, Scheifele needs to sign his entry-level deal.

We’re not sure how far the two sides are apart in negotiations but two parts of the deal are basically standard under the current collective bargaining agreement.

Much like fellow 2011 picks, Mika Zibanejad (sixth overall) of the Ottawa Senators and Sean Couturier (eighth overall) to the Philadelphia Flyers, Scheifele is going to warrant an NHL salary of $925,000 and a signing bonus of $92,500.

We can only assume that the issue at hand is how much the Jets are willing to pay in performance bonuses.

Sticking with the earlier examples, Zibanejad (who has been playing in the Swedish Elite League against men) got $850,000 while Couturier got $450,000.

One other contract to consider is that of Jets second-year centre Alex Burmistrov, the eighth overall pick in 2010.

Burmistrov’s NHL salary is $900,000 with a signing bonus of $90,000 while his performance bonuses average out to $600,000 over the three years of the contract.

Without being privy to the actual number crunching, it seems like the two parties should be able find a happy medium and get this deal done.


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