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He'll be ready when he's ready

Jets refuse to push Scheifele

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When he arrives at the Winnipeg Jets' rush-job of a training camp sometime later this week, Mark Scheifele will again be subject to rows of magnifying glasses.

Will he stick? Is he better? How much will the Jets need him?

We do know this: He's having a pretty fine season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Barrie Colts (21 goals, 48 points in 29 games) and certainly pulled more than his share of rope for Canada at the world junior (eight points, six games).

The Jets, though, don't sound like they're altering their big-picture view of their 2011 No. 1 pick, who went seventh overall and did spend seven early games on their NHL roster last season.

"I think he had a pretty good tournament," Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger said Sunday, just back from the WJC in Ufa, Russia. "I think he's progressed the way we hoped. Last year a lot of things happened for him very quickly.

"This year, it's not a race. Guys mature and get better at different times. He'll get to where he's going in due time, when he's ready, not when somebody else thinks he's ready.

"And he had a pretty good tournament."

Scheifele was clearly the darling of the new-era Jets' first camp 16 months ago.

There's more to the package now.

"As a person, he's made good strides," Heisinger said. "He's a good person. We haven't seen any change in that. He's always got a smile on his face. He'll always work as hard as he can every night. Does he play as good as he can every night? No, but nobody plays as good as he can every night. But if you go out and work and compete, it goes a long way.

"Certainly his maturity as a person, that goes a long way to what kind of player you're going to be. The jury's always out on young players as you see how they progress and deal with things, when they fall back and have challenges."

While in Ufa, Heisinger also got to watch the WJC's best defenceman in Winnipeg's 2012 No. 1 pick Jacob Trouba of Team U.S.A., which won gold.

Trouba will return to the University of Michigan but has acquitted himself well in Heisinger's eyes.

"We've seen him play in the under-18 program and in college this year but that's a different environment," he said. "There's a lot of pressure. He's a go-to guy.

"We just get to see how they react in different situations. And sometimes they get a different role on a different team and you get to see how they react. And both players had a good tournament that way."

Heisinger was asked if Trouba is exceeding the Jets' expectations.

"No, I wouldn't say that but he's developing and progressing the way we hoped," Heisinger said. "Both players, I just think they're progressing the way we hoped.

"They stumble in certain things but they've gotten themselves back up and they've matured as people and players. More importantly, the people part is an important factor and it bodes well for what kind of player you're going to be at the end of the day."

Heisinger also pointed out the trip he and the Jets' scouting staff made to Russia wasn't primarily to watch either Scheifele or Trouba.

"The main purpose is going to see this year's eligible players for the draft," he said. "But that's certainly a benefit if you have drafted guys there. The opportunity to support them and see how they play under high-stress conditions against real good competition is good.

"Both players played pretty well."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 C5

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