A lot has been made about the rumored discourse in the Winnipeg Jets’ locker room. The team suffered another early exit from the postseason this year and some reactions from players, coaches, and media members alike indicated that chemistry concerns may have played a role. This off-season hasn’t helped the narrative either, with mainstays Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot, and Brandon Tanev all electing to walk away as free agents, while Jacob Trouba was traded and Marko Dano and Joe Morrow were not qualified. Andrew Copp was re-signed, but only after a salary arbitration award, and Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor remain unsigned. It’s not good look for a group of players who some feel don’t get along.
Well, star player Mark Scheifele wants to put a stop to these whispers. Speaking with NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger, the Jets’ No. 1 center said that he is confident in his team’s chemistry. “People can claim whatever, but I know we have a tight-knit team,” Scheifele said, “We have great guys in our room. And there’s no question in my mind about the character we have in our room, the unity that we have.” He summed up the ongoing drama by stating that “you know what’s going on in your room. Anything extra is a bunch of baloney.” Scheifele admitted that it was difficult to see the likes of Trouba, Myers, Chiarot, and Tanev leave and hopes that there are resolutions shortly with Laine and Connor, but did not hint that internal issues were the cause of any of their negotiations. Of course, Scheifele would never come out and say otherwise, but it should provide Winnipeg fans with a bit of comfort that he was willing to speak openly about the locker room and tried to shut down the rumors that personalities have or could continue to affect the team’s performance.
- The World Junior Summer Showcase is underway and fans of the Los Angeles Kings should pay close attention. NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman writes that the Kings lead the way with seven prospects participating in the tournament, headlined by recent No. 5 overall pick Alex Turcotte of Team USA. In fact, each of L.A.’s top four selections in June are in attendance; Turcotte is joined by fellow first-round pick Tobias Bjornfot, fellow American forward Arthur Kaliyev, and forward Samuel Fagemo, who joins Bjornfot on Team Sweden. Fourth-round pick Kim Nousiainen will also suit up for Team Finland. 2018 picks Akil Thomas and Aidan Dudas will both line up at forward for Team Canada. It’s an impressive collection of young talent for the Kings and one that should inspire hope for the future for a team that finished last in the Western Conference this past season with just 71 points. This group likely won’t be making an impact in the NHL in 2019-20, but L.A. is grooming a talented young core to take over down the road.
- As for next season, Turcotte definitely won’t be in L.A., as he’s committed to playing at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers’ incoming recruiting class has been very highly regarded, as it features Turcotte and fellow U.S. National Team Development Program products Cole Caufield (MTL) and Owen Lindmark (FLA), as well as another 2019 draft selection in Ryder Donovan (VGK) and potential 2020 top-ten pick in Dylan Holloway. With so many talented freshmen incoming, the question has been how head coach Tony Granato would use his rejuvenated roster. That question has been partially answered for the arguably the team’s new two best forwards. Talking to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman at the Summer Showcase, Caufield stated that he and Turcotte will play on the same line for Wisconsin, at least to begin the year. The duo have some familiarity, although Caufield – the No. 15 pick this year – largely played on Jack Hughes’ wing last season. However, they both possess immense offensive talent, while Turcotte has the two-way intelligence to compensate for Caufield’s lack of size and defensive focus if need be. Having played on the international stage already, the adjustment to the college level should not be too difficult and Turcotte and Caufield could put up huge numbers in their first (and likely only) collegiate season.