Even the most faithful of Winnipeg Jets fans can go ahead and admit it now and without the need of a truth serum:

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This article was published 8/3/2016 (2270 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Even the most faithful of Winnipeg Jets fans can go ahead and admit it now and without the need of a truth serum:

There had to be times over the past few years when there were some serious doubts about Mark Scheifele’s ability to morph into a bona fide No. 1 centre. His vision and shot were world class, no question, but his skating was just OK and he spent so much time picking himself up off the ice, there was even the #Scheifeledown hashtag trending on Twitter.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Jets player #55 Mark Scheifele at the team practice Wednesday at the MTS Centre. Tim Campbell story March 2 2016</p></p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Jets player #55 Mark Scheifele at the team practice Wednesday at the MTS Centre. Tim Campbell story March 2 2016

Now, while it’s a bit presumptuous to draw any concrete conclusions solely from Scheifele’s handiwork over the last few days — he was named the National Hockey League’s second star after registering seven points (six goals, one assist in four games — there has been enough obvious growth in his game over the last year or so to open up discussion again as to what his offensive ceiling might be and his ability to match up against the best centres.

Remember, it was just last spring after the Jets had been swept from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks when Scheifele was being criticized for struggling head-to-head against Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf en route to finishing with only one assist in four games.

But if we’ve learned anything about Mark Scheifele since the day his name was first called out by Kevin Cheveldayoff as the Jets 2.0’s first-ever draft pick, it’s this: the guy is a hockey nut who is absolutely, positively driven to succeed.

He went back to his personal trainers this off-season and got stronger. He’s still often one of the last to leave the practice ice and is one of those hockey nerds that is forever studying and watching the game. That dedication to his craft is now showing up on the black and white of the scoresheet.

Scheifele now has 41 points in 54 games this season and is eight points shy of matching last year’s career high. But it’s how he has matched up against the likes of John Tavares and Connor McDavid defensively in the last week that has Jets coach Paul Maurice beaming. His minutes and his role have spiked upward dramatically since the Jets lost Bryan Little for the season with a neck injury, and when the club’s management sifts through the wreckage of this lost campaign, Scheifele’s transformation will be one of the salvageable developments.

John Woods/ The Canadian Press</p><p>Jets centre Mark Scheifele undresses Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban before scoring one of three goals Saturday.</p></p>

John Woods/ The Canadian Press

Jets centre Mark Scheifele undresses Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban before scoring one of three goals Saturday.

The Jets still have two more games against Chicago, Anaheim and Los Angeles down the stretch and while no one is expecting Scheifele to be as prolific offensively as he has been over the last week, there is a growing expectation he now won’t be mismatched against the likes of Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler.

All of this says something of management’s faith and Scheifele’s work. But it also says a lot about timing. Not only did Scheifele’s recent hot streak unfold after he was not named as part of the initial 16-man roster for Team North America announced last week, it comes with him about to become a restricted free agent this summer.

First, it’s hard to imagine Team North America executives don’t have Scheifele still on their radar. As for the upcoming contract talks, some are now using the recent deal signed by Florida Panthers young centre Aleksander Barkov — he signed a six-year deal worth US$35.4 million — as a reasonable comparable.

Wherever this ends, know this: dude is going to get paid this summer.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPEdTait