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Play of Jets prospects draws mixed reviews

Scheifele, Trouba, Lowry look good, Sutter in funk

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It's still early in the season for most Winnipeg Jets' amateur prospects but the assessments, both pleasing and concerning, are already surfacing.


Barrie Colts centre Mark Scheifele, the relocated franchise's prize at its first draft in June, 2011 continues to develop as a player and a leader.

First-rounder Jacob Trouba, chosen last June at the draft in Pittsburgh, is already catching eyes and fitting in as a freshman at the University of Michigan.

And 2011 second-round pick Adam Lowry continues to grow -- he's now six-foot-five -- and develop in several ways.

The son of former NHLer Dave Lowry has been converted to left wing from centre by his Swift Current Broncos, and been named team captain.

No federal inquiry has yet been called, but eyes will be closer still on 2012 second-round pick Lukas Sutter of the Saskatoon Blades.

The team is off to an unexpectedly poor start, as is the gritty third-year centre, who has scored but two goals and three points in the season's first 17 games.

For a first-quarter update on all the rising and falling, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff agreed to share some of his scouting information on Thursday.

Cheveldayoff noted that Sutter, picked 39th overall last June, was named an assistant captain of the Blades, who are the host team for next spring's Memorial Cup.

"The team has not gotten off to the start they wanted," Cheveldayoff said. "Lukas is definitely looking to improve on how the start of the season has gone for him."

Sutter has been left off the WHL's squad for the upcoming Subway Super Series, but he may yet have some time to make a case for an invitation to the World Junior Selection camp next month.

Two likely World Junior players seem to have pleased the Jets' GM more.

Scheifele is fourth in OHL scoring this season as of Thursday and, it's worth noting, could potentially miss the World Junior if the NHL season were to begin.

It's a lot of ifs, but he's on a list of eligible invitees to Jets camp and should he make the team, a second crack with Team Canada might not be in the cards.

"Mark's been a leader on and off the ice, a big part of their success on a nightly basis," Cheveldayoff said. "We're excited about that."

Trouba, just 18, has been as-billed so far, an aggressive, assertive defenceman, including a one-game suspension served last weekend for a high check to an opponent.

"He's been good in the games I've seen," Cheveldayoff said. "And when other people on our staff have seen him, they've been happy. He's competitive, aggressive... those things come natural to him."

Overall, the fall has been productive, Cheveldayoff said, especially because by next week, he will have seen every one of the team's draft picks in person. Of course, that includes the organization's AHL team, the St. John's IceCaps.

"Those are things, under normal circumstances, that are very difficult to accomplish," he said.

Cheveldayoff said that he maintains close contact with Jimmy Roy, who oversees the player development department. And it's Roy who is more hands-on with the amateur prospects.

"The processes we go through to help these guys develop and with their support systems, they are all well in place now," Cheveldayoff said. "That's a positive thing for us.

"We don't just draft them and sit back and wait for them to come to the forefront. In today's world of hockey, you try to do all you can to enhance them. We've got a good staff and a good group of character players. Some of them are captains and alternate captains. Those are important things for us.

"We're just watching how they develop and how they contribute to their team's success. It's not just their individual success, because ultimately, everyone's going to have to play a different role when they turn pro or when they come into the Jets' NHL team. So you want to see how they react to the different pressures and aspects of being team leaders."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 C4


Updated on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:29 AM CST: replaces photo

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