He knows that first-round feeling

Scheifele, first draft pick of Jets 2.0, figures addition of Laine a big plus

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It was a day that changed his life.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2016 (2345 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was a day that changed his life.

Mark Scheifele vividly remembers hearing his name called at the No. 7 spot in the 2011 National Hockey League’s entry draft at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., five years ago.

Scheifele, 18 at the time, can recall where he was sitting, the anxiety he felt waiting and the elation of hearing, “The Winnipeg Jets are proud to select, from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League…”

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele teaches hockey skills to youngsters for KidSport at MTS Iceplex Saturday. This is the second year Scheifele has hosted the camp. See Billeck story. June 25 / 2016

Of course, Scheifele has gone down in history as the first pick by the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets following the team’s relocation just weeks before the draft.

He’s also morphed into the team’s top centre and a player who came close to hitting the 30-goal mark in his third full season in the NHL, netting 29.

Patrik Laine’s selection at second overall Friday night will be no less important to the future of the club. He’s already been compared to Teemu Selanne. Laine, at least in Winnipeggers’ minds, was the only choice Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff had Friday night. It was Laine or bust. Cheveldayoff took the former and the city roared.

For Scheifele, Laine represents a player with the potential to help him and the rest of the team make a push to be a perennial contender. Having played against Laine in the past, Scheifele understands his worth.

“He looks like an unbelievable player,” Scheifele said between sessions at the second annual Mark Scheifele Hockey Camp at MTS Iceplex Saturday.

“I’ve played against him at the World Championships twice now and he’s a special player. I’m definitely excited he’s part of our team now.”

Laine was the easy pick for the Jets, but they also made a move by trading up to the 18th pick, sacrificing their 22nd and 36th picks for the chance at drafting Logan Stanley, who, like Scheifele, is a Kitchener native,

Less is known about the 6-7, left-handed shot, at least among veteran players, but Mark Stuart knows a thing or two about big guys on the blue-line, having played with 6-9 Zdeno Chara in Boston and Jets’ 6-7 D-man, Tyler Myers.

“Chara and Myers, those guys can skate and make plays, but being that size, you have a long stick and they can defend well and they don’t have to cover as much ground,” said Stuart, who was on the ice with Scheifele and a bevy of other Jets players and prospects for the two-day event.

“It’s definitely an advantage, and having two big guys like that on the back end, it’s going to be a good thing.”

Scheifele and Stuart share first-round draft-pick status, but the Jets drafted four others outside of the opening round Saturday. Nic Petan, who spent the majority of the past season with the Manitoba Moose, was on a flight to Winnipeg when the Jets drafted Laine, but he’s well versed in what the Finn can do.

It’s a different type of waiting game for those who go in the later rounds, according to Petan, who was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft.

“(You’re) nervous because you never know where you’re going to go,” he said. “Once your name is called though, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

scott.billeck@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @scottbilleck

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