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Scheifele, Trouba sure as death, taxes

Prepare to be amazed if either fails to make team

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BANFF, Alta. -- Will they or won't they?

The official verdict is all but announced and won't surprise anybody, but Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba will give the Winnipeg Jets a bona fide rookie look for the 2013-14 NHL season that begins Tuesday for the Jets in Edmonton.

The duo remains part of the group of 26 that is assembled in mini-retreat mode in Banff, a roster that will be soon trimmed to 23 to meet NHL rules.

Jets head coach Claude Noel was asked Saturday what's on the minds of so many fans -- what have you got in store for first-round draft picks Scheifele (2011) and Trouba (2012)?

He chuckled, because he gets this question quite a lot, and more or less deferred apart from one clue.

"We have to kind of wait for that. I have a vision to where they are going to be and to play and we'll just have to wait until that plays out," Noel said.

"I have to say that I have liked both. They bring some good things to our group and they certainly look like they can play here."

Scheifele finished the pre-season with a goal and an assist in six games, and minus-three. Friday, he played with a couple of different lines, but did get a spell with Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi.

Trouba also played six exhibition games, had three assists and was plus-two.

After another solid game Thursday, on Friday he was minus-two in an effort that largely matched his team -- weak. He was the main culprit on Boston's first goal in the game's first minute, making a lame and soft clear of the puck away from his net right to the top of the slot, a play that was hammered back into the Jets' net.

-- -- --

The final roster reduction must come before mid-afternoon Monday, when the NHL requires each team to be at a maximum 23 players and be at or under the prescribed $64.3-million salary cap.

The Jets must re-assign three players by that time.

"It won't be today or probably tomorrow either," Noel said Saturday. "We'll keep the group. I've got to meet with (GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) and talk about some different things."

The coach said last week that under normal circumstances, he prefers to go with seven defencemen and 14 (or two extra) forwards but he didn't make any promises.

-- -- --

What exactly is the team doing in Banff?

All the details weren't being shared with reporters, but some things were known.

The club is hoping to have the players spend as much time together as a group as possible, instead of off by themselves or in smaller groups or cliques, with the goal getting to know one another better.

Golf was on tap Saturday afternoon, despite the grey, cool weather. In the morning, the players were seen outdoors at the grounds of the Banff Springs Hotel.

Noel called that: "Some introductory stuff, just building some trust with each other, trying to build confidence in each other.

"We have some activities, quite a bit of humour in some of the stuff," he said. "A lot of blindfolded stuff so it put people in some uncomfortable situations where you have to trust certain teammates... It's all good."

-- -- --

On the injury front, Noel said Saturday that defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was fine after spilling legs-first into the boards late in Friday's loss.

Byfuglien left that game at the point, but was seen after it was over walking around under his own power.

"He's good today," the coach said.

Defencemen Grant Clitsome and Zach Bogosian, with the team here, both have unspecified injuries and are day-to-day. Bogosian isn't too bad, Noel said, and both could well be available for Tuesday's opener.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 29, 2013 B7

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