Riley Sheahan might have been the most average player on the Red Wings last season.
And that isn’t a bad thing. While he may not stand out in anything, he is still pretty good at everything, which makes for an effective third line center, which is a role that he may have to get used to on the Red Wings. Fresh off a two year, $2.075 million contract signing with the Wings, and with Larkin and Nielsen being the so far established first and second line centers, Sheahan is facing a situation that many of the young Wings are facing, that being that the depth chart may not provide him with enough room to grow.
Originating from St. Catherines, Ontario, Sheahan elected to go the route of college hockey instead of major junior, playing with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for three years. He played quite well there, and it got the attention of the Red Wings, as he was selected 21st overall by the Wings in 2010. He played one game in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, but it wasn’t until the Red Wings injury plagued 2013-14 season that saw Sheahan get a chance to shine. His 24 points in 42 games and strong defensive game impressed Mike Babcock, and he’s been on the team ever since.
He also has one of the funnier DUI arrest videos out there, but that’s like saying that Happy Gilmore is one of the funnier Adam Sandler movies. It’s funny, but still not good. Don’t drink and drive kids.
LAST YEAR’S STATS
While the first couple of (reasonable) sample sizes of Sheahan showed lots of promise, the 2015-16 season was average. He had just 25 points in 81 games, just one more point than his 42 game rookie season. It should be noted that he also had a career low on-ice shooting percentage, so bad luck has a little bit to do towards that. In terms of the analytical side, he had a 1.25 5v5 P60, and a 51.37% 5v5 CF, which is good, but not by Sheahan’s standards, as he had 56.36% in 2013-14, and 55.19% in 2014-15. To be fair, a lot of Red Wings were just average last season, so it’s not all on Sheahan.
Using several stats, Sheahan’s most recent season can be compared to Daniel Paille’s 2009-10 season. That year, Paille put up 20 points in 76 games, as well as a 5v5 CF% of 49.3%. While not an ideal comparison, it continues to hammer down the “average season” point. Unfortunately for Wings fans, this season compares to lots of third or fourth line role players, such as Torrey Mitchell, Viktor Stalberg, and Matt Cooke. However, his first two seasons compare to better players such as Jussi Jokinen, Mika Zibanijad, and Brandon Saad, so depending on how Sheahan develops will depend on the player he eventually can become.
THIS YEAR’S PROJECTION
Assuming that Sheahan is handed the role of third line center behind Larkin and Nielsen, it seems that he will have a similar season to this year. It’s not a terrible thing, as he didn’t have a negative impact on the team, but also didn’t have a massively positive impact on the team either, and for a 24 year old, you would certainly hope that Sheahan takes a step in the right direction this season. A lot of that will hinge on how he is deployed this season, but you’ll hear that about of a lot of the bottom six forwards for the Wings this season.
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