It was only a matter of time before Conor Sheary got his chance with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The undrafted rookie from University of Massachusetts Amherst never produced at a point-per-game rate in college play. Once he signed a professional try-out contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Sheary never looked back.
In the 2013-14 Calder Cup playoffs, he scored 11 points in 15 games. Sheary followed up the impressive debut with 20 goals and a total of 45 points in 58 games during the 2014-15 regular season. He was their leading scoring in the following playoffs, scoring 12 points in 8 games. This season Sheary finally was given his chance in the NHL.
His former head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Mike Sullivan was promoted to the NHL and when the need to call a player up arose, Sheary’s name topped the list. Sullivan knows his game inside and out and loves what he brings to the ice.
When asked about what Sheary brought to the NHL here’s what Sullivan had to say.
I thought Conor, he brought a lot to the table for that line, I thought that line was good. He can play that give-and-go game down low in the corners. That’s one of Crosby’s strengths. Conor can certainly help him there. He scores a goal. He’s quick to pucks, helps create turnovers. He’s a good player and he’s got hockey sense that we can play him up and down the lineup.
Conor Sheary’s NHL Debut
In his first NHL game, Sheary was given 15:52 of ice time and was held off the score sheet. Yet, despite the perceived lack of statistical impact on the game, Sheary made play after play for a Penguin team that simply couldn’t score. His second NHL game was much better, and some of that might be due to playing alongside Sidney Crosby, but Sheary finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Here was Sheary’s reaction after his first game.
I know that because he was my coach down in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton he has a little bit of trust in me. I think he knows how I can play and I think he thinks I can play at that level. I’m just going to bring my own game and hopefully it work out.
Sheary has shown the Penguins, and the city of Pittsburgh, that he’s a dynamic player. With the small sample size of his play, his metrics are off the charts. He scores 3.17 points per-sixty-minutes played and has a Corsi For of 66.675. And when you look at Crosby’s statistics with Sheary, the metrics are even more impressive. When the duo play together, the Penguins score 5.09 goals per-sixty and only allow 2.55 goals against and have a Corsi For of 71.4% and when Crosby is without Sheary, his Corsi For drops to 47.1%.
If these two can maintain their impressive performance, then the Penguins might have finally found a right wing for Crosby to play with. Sheary has molded his game into a complimentary player for the Penguins captain and has more than accounted for his small size.
I’ve previously compared Sheary to a player liker Tyler Johnson, who has overcame being undrafted and a a smaller player and thrived in the NHL. Of coarse, this does not matter if Crosby isn’t on the ice, as he is dealing with a lower-body injury. Regardless, Sheary has been a great find for a Penguins organization without many talented prospects. Now that he’s made it to the NHL, I doubt he will return to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton anytime soon.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers