With his first professional hockey season now behind him, Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele took time to reflect on his busy season when he joined TSN Radio 1290's Rick Ralph, Brian Munz and Shane Hnidy on Tuesday.
"It's definitely been a whirlwind," Scheifele said. "When I got drafted I went right into a hard-working summer and into development camp and then to the world junior team. A lot of traveling and a lot of hockey played but it's been a fun season and it's been something I'll always remember."
Scheifele, 19, came out flying in Jets training camp and led the team in preseason scoring, making the opening night roster. He played seven regular season games with the big club and scored once before returning to his junior team, the Barrie Colts.
"This year wasn't about being an elite player," said Scheifele. "It was a year to learn how to be a winner and finding out what it takes to help the team succeed. That's what Dale (Hawerchuk) helped me with a lot this year."
Hawerchuk, the former Jets star and Hall of Famer, is the Colts' head coach.
"Dale has been a very big help," added Scheifele. "He's always helped me out and given me the confidence to play my best. He's been a great help for me, having someone there that can relate to what I'm going through."
Scheifele put up 23 goals, 40 assists and had a plus-21 rating in 47 regular season games with the Colts this season. The centre played in 13 playoff games and earned five goals and seven assists before the Colts were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
"This year in Barrie was a different year than last year," said Scheifele. "Last year was a rebuilding team while this year, there was older guys to rely on and not just having one power play unit but having two and having a lot of players to rely on. It was definitely a different year that way."
With his Ontario Hockey League club done for the season, Scheifele made his American Hockey League debut by joining the St. John's IceCaps for Game 3 of the opening-round series against the Syracuse Crunch. He managed one assist in 10 Calder Cup playoff games.
While Scheifele prepares for another off-season of training, the current NHL season is at its pinnacle as the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings get set to open the 2012 Stanley Cup Final Wednesday.
Scheifele is leaning towards the Kings hoisting the Cup when all is said and done.
"I'm going to say Los Angeles in six," predicted Scheifele. "I thought the Rangers were going to take out New Jersey and was going to pick them to win the Cup but since that didn't happen, I'm going to go with the Kings. I think they have a lot of scoring power and variety in their game; guys like Brown who can score and is a tough guy to play against.
"They have skilled guys like (Mike) Richards and (Jeff) Carter; those guys do it all. I think Jonathan Quick is playing great in net and I just think they have the overall game to win the Stanley Cup."