Winnipeg Jets: How Mark Scheifele would impact each NHL Division

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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The news of the day is the Winnipeg Jets‘ acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois. On the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dubois was generally regarded as an emerging First Line Center. But on the Winnipeg Jets, that might not be the case. Mark Scheifele is Winnipeg’s current First Line Center. Dubois will slot in either ahead or behind him on the depth chart. This made me wonder about what teams Mark Scheifele would be the First Line Center on. Or, in other words, where he stands around the league.

The First Line Center’s highest priority is scoring points. The best ones generally score the most. They play the most minutes, and they also play first unit Power Play Time.

But since Pavel Datsyuk’s success with the Detroit Red Wings in the 2000s, a new type of First Line Center has emerged. One that is more defensively responsible, if only a little bit. There’s been a trend over the last decade where Cup-contending teams field defensively responsible Two Way Centers on their first line.

Yet still, when we talk about who the best First Line Centers are, the main focus remains with point production. And that’s going to be my focus in this article.

As with my recent article on the NHL’s best Number One Defensemen, I like to see what the stats tell us about players. In this article, I look at 2019-20 stats for:

  1. Time on Ice (TOI) – which I got from puckIQ;
  2. Time against Elite Competition (vs. elite) – also from puckIQ;
  3. Even Strength Points (ES Pts)- from natural stat trick;
  4. Their Corsi For percent vs. their team’s Corsi For percent (“Corsi Diff” of “CDiff”) – from natural stat trick;
  5. Power Play TOI (PPTOI)- from natural stat trick;
  6. Team PP % (PP%)- which I got from;
  7. Power Play Points (PPP) – from natural stat trick.

I tested the 36 most utilized centers from around the league. I used 36 players because some teams (like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins) each have two legitimate First Line Centers.

I made the lowest scoring player in each category a 0.0% and the highest scoring player a 100.0%.  I then averaged all seven categories to create an Overall Score for each player.

This is another way of saying I measured players based on percentile score. I did not do this exact thing in my other articles. I hope it creates more separation between the players in this one. In the article about Defensemen, I ended up with six players whose Overall Scores differed by less than 1.0%.

This time around, I ended up with a list that even more closely met the eye test.

How did Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele do?

Mark Scheifele scored:

  1. TOI: 100.0%
  2. vs elite: 100.0%
  3. ES Pts: 60.5%
  4. CDiff: 4.0%
  5. PPTOI: 73.8%
  6. PP%: 41.0%
  7. PPP: 37.8%

Overall Score: 59.6%

Of the 36 players I tested, Scheifele played the most Even Strength minutes overall and the most minutes against elite competition. That likely makes him last season’s most heavily utilized center in the entire NHL.

As a result, perhaps it isn’t surprising that his Corsi Differential suffered. CDiff measures how much better a player makes their team. Scheifele’s Corsi For Percentage was 47.7%. That was 0.85% lower than Winnipeg’s Corsi For Percentage of 48.55%. And that number was near the very bottom of my sample. As I’ve been doing this, I have noticed that the more minutes a player plays, the lower their Corsi Differential tends to be.

The average CDiff for all 36 players was 1.6% the other way. The highest CDiff was Elias Pettersson, who had a 54.7% Corsi For Percentage, on a team that only had a 48.43% Corsi For Percentage overall. Pettersson scored 100.0% in that category, although he wasn’t as good in some others.

That being said, the end result isn’t bad; it’s quite good. Scheifele’s Overall Score of 59.6% actually marks him as a top-tier First Line Center. But his heavy utilization suggests that after Scheifele, the Winnipeg Jets suffer from depth down the middle. Although we all know that will soon be rectified.

Next, I’ll go through each Division in the NHL, as they existed in 2019-20. I’ll be speculating on where Mark Scheifele would slot in on each team’s depth chart.