Mark Scheifele compares ‘outrageous’ Laine to Matthews

Ryan Dixon is joined by Julie Robenhymer (@JulieRobenhymer on Twitter) to talk about the plethora of prospects coming out of USA hockey, and Auston Matthews’ ability to carry a team offensively.

Mark Scheifele saw something in potential future Winnipeg Jets linemate Patrik Laine at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

“He’s pretty unbelievable. He’s obviously young, and sometimes you can tell that, but his skill level [and] his shot is outrageous. He skates really well,” Scheifele told Hockey Central at Noon Tuesday.

The Jets won the second-overall draft pick in the lottery, and after his MVP performance at the worlds, Laine is a virtual lock to get snapped up by Winnipeg on June 24.

“You can tell he’s going to be a very special player,” Scheifele said. “I know if we end up getting him, he’ll definitely be a huge improvement to our team. He’ll fit in well for sure.”

Not only was Scheifele’s line charged with shutting down the dangerous Finnish trio of Laine, Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen in Canada’s gold-medal win Sunday, but the Jets pivot played Laine and top American prospect Auston Matthews twice each in the tournament. He also watched the elite prospects play every chance he could to study their tendencies.

Scheifele, 23, said he enjoys sitting around “hot-stoving players” with his teammates and believes he’ll make a good general manager one day.

“I like to think everyone can play with me,” Scheifele half-joked, noting Laine’s underrated vision and playmaking ability. “He also sees the ice really well. That’s something people might overlook on him — that passing ability.”

Scheifele pointed to this saucer pass Laine made in the semifinal against Russia as especially impressive:

Presumed No. 1 overall Matthews, Scheifele observed, is a forward of a different mold.

“He plays the game totally different than Laine. Laine’s a little bit more of a sniper, reads the ice really well and [finds] spots where he can get off a shot quickly or goes to the net easily. He has an unbelievable set of hands on him as well,” Scheifele said.

“Then you see a player like Matthews, and he plays such a solid game. He reminds me a little bit of [Ryan] Getzlaf. He’s tall, he’s upright, he moves the puck well, he’s very flow-y in his game. Also, when he gets in deep, he’s able to grind with the best of them. He’s a big body. He’s definitely going to be a very good centre in the NHL.”

Scheifele, a restricted free agent, said he has nothing to report regarding contract negotiations with the Jets and that he’s had his fingers crossed all year for a World Cup invite.

“I’ve not heard anything, but it’s definitely on my wish list,” said the Team North America candidate. “I really hope to make that team.”

If Scheifele does get the call this week from GM Peter Chiarelli to join Team North America — and, after putting up nine points in nine golden games, he should — the Jets centre will be answering from California. He’ll be vacationing with girlfriend Dara Howell, who also knows a thing or two about winning gold medals herself.

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