Kitchener has a new millionaire today. Congratulations to 18-year old Mark Schiefele! With one stroke or your pen, you joined a club most of us can only look through the window of, and be envious. If you don’t know the name, you will soon. Mark is a Kitchener kid, who played hockey for the Barrie Colts and then became the first-ever draft pick of the born-again Winnipeg Jets. The salary cap hit is 1.62 million per year. That means if Schiefele finds his NHL groove, he’ll pocket a lot! This also means, the Jets have decided to at least start the year with number 45 penciled in the line up. If he plays more than ten games, they have to use ink. The bigger question for me, why are 1/3rd of this year’s first round draft class signed and still with the big clubs and not back in junior? It used to a rare talent that stuck in the NHL at 18, or didn’t apprentice in the minors first. Now it’s a lot more common. I don’t believe the players are THAT much better. I believe the salary cap system makes it easier to keep a talented kid on the club, pay him less than almost everybody else and watch him develop, or not, in front of your eyes. That’s a lot of pressure on an 18-year old. Jeff Skinner did it, but many did not, or could not. For every player that makes a dent at 18, you could fill the bench with those who couldn’t. I’m not pre-judging Schiefle, or Ryan Murphy, I’m just saying what’s wrong with keeping the kids in junior a year longer? They would all have leadership, not peripheral roles and instead of the odd shift per game, they would build their bodies and minds by logging a lot of minutes and grow into the role. I hope all the 18-year olds that start the NHL get a chance to show what they can do as a pro. For Skinner and Gabriel Landeskog it meant they were ready. I wish I could say the same for all of them.