Jets send ’11 first-rounder Scheifele back to junior

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In surprising news, the Winnipeg Jets have sent Mark Scheifele — their first-round pick, 7th overall at the 2011 Draft — back to his junior club in OHL Barrie.

It’s a newsworthy development on a number of fronts.

One, Scheifele made the Jets out of training camp and has been with the club for three weeks. While he’s only played in four games this year and therefore still eligible to be returned to junior, most NHL clubs made the decision to reassign their prospects a while ago (see here and here and here).

Two, it makes you wonder what Winnipeg was waiting for.

Scheifele had been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions and wasn’t a major factor in the games he did play in, going scoreless in four contests while averaging just over 11 minutes a night.

But in his last game — Friday’s 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay — Scheifele played a career-high 16:47 and managed to finish with an even rating despite the fact Winnipeg allowed five even-strength goals (Blake Wheeler finished minus-3 and played less than Scheifele.)

This marks the second time in as many seasons that the Jets have re-assigned Scheifele to junior.

In 2011-12, he appeared in seven games with the club before being sent back to Barrie, but was later called up to the AHL playoffs with the St. John’s IceCaps, playing in 10 games while notching one assist.