Winnipeg Jets first round pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Mark Scheifele
, can breathe a sigh of relief Monday morning. The Jets announced first thing Monday that they have come terms with Scheifele on a three-year, entry-level contract. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.
After an impressive pre-season stint, leading the Jets in scoring with four goals and eight points in five exhibition games, Scheifele has earned the right to be in the lineup on October 9th, against the Montreal Canadiens. Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, addressed the media after practice at the MTS Iceplex Monday afternoon confirming that Scheifele will play opening night but there are no expectations beyond that.
"He's showing great potential," said Chevy. "Certainly we're very excited about his training camp and very happy to have him signed to a contract.
"There really are no expectations. He'll be in the lineup opening night and we'll take it day-by-day in those regards. There are no guarantees of anything. I met with him this morning and we're all on the same page in that we know it's an accomplishment of where he's gotten to at this point and we're just going to evaluate on a daily basis, on a game by game basis."
Although there are no expectations, it doesn't mean that the spotlight won't be on Scheifele for the first few games. If anything, the lens will be zoomed in on number 45.
"I think the microscope is always going to be on him," said Captain Andrew Ladd
. "I think especially for that first nine games, everybody is going to be watching and judging, obviously knowing that there is a big decision on that tenth game. He does a great job of staying away from that and just playing hockey. He has a great head on his shoulders, that's one of the things that's pretty impressive about him, he's smart and just plays hockey."
That's what he does best, plays hockey, with a smile on his face. His permanent grin got even bigger after signing on the dotted line. Who wouldn't be beaming after signing their first NHL contract?
"It was unreal, "said Scheifele. "I don't think I've had that big of a smile on my face for signing anything in my life. It was an unbelievable moment, definitely a big difference from junior.
"To [play hockey] for a living is an unbelievable feeling and that's what drives me and what motivates me to always have a smile on my face. I'm always happy to be at the rink. I get to do what I love everyday and get paid for it, I'd do it for free."
After the deal was done, Coach Claude Noel entered the dressing room and said, "We've signed a new player. The players gave him a warm round of applause congratulating him on his contract.
"It was good to see the guys congratulate me," Scheifele commented. "It's nice to hear it from guys who I idolized a few years ago so it was definitely cool."