Winnipeg Jets pivot Mark Scheifele is used to sevens. Drafted seventh overall back in 2011. Finished seventh in scoring during a breakout 2016-17 campaign. Now – in what will be the seventh season since his draft day – he’s looking for the jackpot: his first career scoring title.
Scheifele’s central goal remains earning the city of Winnipeg a long-awaited Stanley Cup, but after a season that saw him break into the league’s upper echelon with a career-best 82 points – just a handful fewer than Sidney Crosby – Scheifele said he believes he can push for the top of the charts.
“In this sport, you can’t say, ‘Oh, you know, that was great. I just hope to stay amongst them,” Scheifele told NHL.com’s Nicholas Cotsonika on Tuesday. “I’m pushing to be better than Connor (McDavid), better than Sid.
“Obviously they’re pretty lofty goals. Those guys are special players. They work unbelievably hard at their game. But at one time last year, I was top in the league in scoring.”
Scheifele certainly seems to be in a plum position in regards to reaching that hefty end-game, especially with Winnipeg housing a growing cast of offensive dynamos that includes young stars Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.
The trick, said Scheifele, is capitalizing on that favourable situation every single time he steps on the ice.
“In my mind, I see it as, if I stay more consistent, there’s no reason why I can’t stay there,” Scheifele said. “I’ve just got to continue to push. I’ve got some great linemates, which helps me. We’ve got a great (defense) corps behind us. I’m going to continue to push to be the best and not just be mentioned in that company, but be at the very top.”
Scheifele recently elaborated on that notion of elite consistency to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, looking to the game’s current king for the blueprint.
“Sid does it consistently. He makes the same play over and over again. He creates so many chances by being consistent for his linemates,” Scheifele said to Friedman. “Obviously Sid likes certain areas on the ice. He likes that back post, clearly guys know he’s there. Through the neutral zone, he does certain things over and over. They know where he’s going, they know his reads. That’s what chemistry is. They know his reads, they know what he’s thinking.
“Obviously, Sid is at a different level the way he thinks the game, but being consistent for everyone around you helps everyone be the best player that they can. When they get stuck in a situation it’s not like, ‘Where is everyone?’ It’s like, ‘Sid’s right there.'”
A clear student of the game, Scheifele is set to challenge for that top scorer status in a 2017-18 campaign looking likely to feature a notable step forward for the Jets. And it’s this potential progress, said the 24-year-old centreman, that is the true motivation for his Art Ross dreams.
“It’s about getting your team into the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup,” Scheifele told Cotsonika. “That’s why I try to get better and I hope every guy on the team is trying to get better.”