The perils of projecting prospects on preseason hockey
In 2011, an 18-year-old Mark Scheifele led the Winnipeg Jets in preseason scoring with four goals and eight points in five games, just months removed from being the surprise pick of the top 10.
When the real games started, he lasted just seven games before Winnipeg decided he wasn’t ready. He played just four NHL games the next season, and it took another two years before he became the top-six centre that he’s been for the better part of the last decade.
Just about every preseason, there’s a Scheifele or two: A preseason hero. Someone who surprises with their details and skill level, but clearly wasn’t ready to move to the NHL full-time.
Based on history, it’s probably best that these players return to the CHL. Likewise, it’s important to remember that preseason success doesn’t equate future NHL success, especially for players who have yet to establish themselves as play drivers in juniors or develop the necessary layers to translate.
Similarly, the timelines that preseason suggests for the non-elite prospects often don’t come true.
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