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Jets could turn to Scheifele, Trouba to fill lineup gaps

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 6:44 PM / Prospects

By Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

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Jets could turn to Scheifele, Trouba to fill lineup gaps
The Winnipeg Jets are trying to determine whether two recent first-round selections, center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Jacob Trouba, can help fill the gaps in a lineup that lost a pair of players.

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up their development camp Friday afternoon hoping to find a few answers for the many questions that confront them this summer.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff must determine whether two recent first-round selections, center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Jacob Trouba, can help fill the gaps in a lineup that lost a pair of players.

NHL jobs certainly are available in Winnipeg this fall.

Mark Scheifele is fresh off a 39-goal season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL. (Photo: Getty Images)

Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey helped stabilize the Jets' top four over the past two seasons. However, the 32-year-old is examining options as an unrestricted free agent and his return appears unlikely. Center Alexander Burmistrov, the Jets' 2010 first-round selection (No. 8), elected to leave after three seasons for a deal with AK Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Jets also are seeking to stabilize their second line and find offensive talents to complement left wing Evander Kane. To that end, the Jets acquired forward Devin Setoguchi from the Minnesota Wild as an option for right-side help, but the center spot remains open.

Winnipeg may have a pair of answers with Scheifele and Trouba, who joined 2013 first-round selection Joshua Morrissey (No. 13) and other Jets prospects at this camp. The weeklong session offered some of the trappings of the NHL as further motivation. Kane, who is rehabbing from surgery, participated in on-ice sessions in front of large crowds at the club's practice facility.

"It's unbelievable to have a crowd like that for a developmental camp [session]," Scheifele said. "It's a great feeling. It just pushes you that much more to work that much harder and give a little bit more energy for them."

Scheifele and Trouba are accustomed to Winnipeg's appetite for hockey even on the hottest of summer days. But the crowds that greeted Jets prospects this week took aback Morrissey, a defenseman who completed his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.

"It's pretty surreal to see all of the fans out there," Morrissey told reporters. "My first few steps out of those doors with all of the [fans] lined up and saying some pretty nice stuff, it's pretty unreal."

Winnipeg's small-town feel and media crush can require some adjustment for young players, and it is a point the Jets made during a seminar this week.


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"It's truly a development camp for us," Cheveldayoff said of a group that added 10 draft picks in June. "It's development in all aspects of the organization, both on the ice, off the ice, culturally, and even individually from the player standpoint. We're trying to develop good, young men that are going to continue to grow and be future Jets."

One of those would-be Jets is Scheifele, who turned 20 in March and is fresh off a 39-goal season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. The Jets have taken a slow approach with their 2011 first-round selection (No. 7), dressing him for 11 NHL games over parts of the past two seasons but mostly allowing him to refine his play at the junior level.

Could Scheifele find himself on a line with Kane, the organization's 2009 first-round selection (No. 4)?

"Obviously the goal is to make Winnipeg," Scheifele said. "That goal will never go away. I'm working my hardest this summer to be on the team full-time this year. It's obviously a goal of mine to be in the top six. If that would happen, that would be unbelievable, and that's what I'm working this hard for [over] the rest of the summer."

Back on the blue line, Trouba is a very sturdy prospect. The 19-year-old left the University of Michigan this spring after one season to turn pro with the Jets, who had made him the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Trouba had 12 goals and 17 assists in 37 games with the Wolverines as a freshman. He landed on the first team of the CCM Hockey All-America West Team, making him the first Michigan freshman to earn first-team All-America honors.

"I want this place to be home for me for quite a while," Trouba said of Winnipeg, "and I'm working to get there. I think [making the club] is very realistic. That's my goal. That's what I want: to be in Winnipeg playing for the Jets. So I'm going to do anything I can. There are only certain things that I control, and one of them is how hard I work, and that's what I want to focus on right now."

To that end, adding muscle is a key offseason goal for Scheifele and Trouba, who are spending the summer in Toronto training with Gary Roberts, the former NHL star now known for his intense focus on conditioning and nutrition. Scheifele estimated he has added nearly 20 pounds of muscle since the Jets drafted him.

"It's going really [well]," Scheifele said of his long daily sessions with Roberts. "I've already seen huge gains in my body and in my strength. The rest of the summer will definitely help. He knows what it takes.

"It's the kind of thing where you have to invest in yourself. It's a tough program, but if you want to make it, you've got to make those sacrifices."

The time together has allowed two pieces of the Jets' future to bond.

"We're pretty good friends," Trouba said of his relationship with Scheifele. "I think with the kind of people we are, we're both pretty competitive people. I think it's good, and it's healthy for our relationship. It's only going to help us.

"This summer is probably the most important summer of my career thus far. [Roberts] has a proven record of training other players who have played in the NHL, so we thought that was the best place for us to all go and build some chemistry. We're having fun this summer, but we're working hard."


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