It’s that time of the year again. Training camp—it’s that first real on-ice action before the regular season and preseason. The Winnipeg Jets completed their first day of training camp on Wednesday and will continue grinding it out until the last day on September 30.
Training camp is the perfect time for head coach Claude Noel to evaluate his roster, try different looks and get a feel for his team. With the preseason looming and the regular season just after that, training camp is as important as ever for the Jets.
Training camp is also a time for players to prove themselves—whether it be under-the-radar players, young rookies or veterans looking to show they still got it.
Everyone gets a chance to prove themselves, but which players have the most to prove?
After a disastrous year for Dustin Byfuglien, his sole focus the entire offseason was to commit to change. Byfuglien slimmed down in the offseason, which was step one for him. Step two will be how he actually performs on ice.
Usually around this time of the year we’re talking about how Byfuglien is showing up to training camps out of shape. We’re talking about how slow and sluggish he looks on the ice. Will it be the same again this time around?
Or has “Big Buff” turned a new leaf?
A lot of people doubt whether or not Byfuglien can be a leader on the Jets. He’ll get a chance to prove everyone wrong, including his coaches.
It seems like Mark Scheifele always has something to prove to someone every year. There might not be a single player on the Jets roster that has more to prove at training camp than Scheifele himself.
At the same time, Scheifele is one of the most prepared players on the Jets roster. He’s more than ready for the rocky road ahead, but will that be enough for him to succeed?
There are a lot of high hopes and expectations following Scheifele around, but he has yet to reassure anyone that he’s capable of fulfilling those expectations. It’s about time he does or at least attempts to.
The time is now for Scheifele.
Scheifele will be jostling for a top-six spot with Olli Jokinen. If he can beat out Jokinen for a spot in the top six, it will be a huge step in the right direction.
Until then, Scheifele will have to prove to Noel during training camp that he’s more than capable of leading this team. He has to prove that he's ready to handle the big minutes and produce at a considerable pace.
The counterpart to Scheifele would be Olli Jokinen. He has to prove he's still worth something in the NHL. Otherwise, he's taking up a valuable spot on the roster.
Jokinen was awful in his first year with the Jets. Can he be any worse this time around? Or can Jokinen be the point producer he once was with the Florida Panthers.
In any case, Jokinen has to show up at training camp with a chip on his shoulder. His time as a professional hockey player is winding down, and I'm sure he doesn't want to go out with a terrible season under his belt.