Rumors of the Detroit Red Wings trading Riley Sheahan have heated up over the last week. The reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, are the team most linked to Sheahan. Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that a trade between Pittsburgh and Detroit for Sheahan would be mutually beneficial:
Consider that Sheahan will make just $2.075 million in 2017-18, which is well within the Penguins’ price range; they currently have $3.28 million in space according to CapFriendly.com.
Detroit is also looking for young defensemen, and the Penguins happen to have a former first-round pick who might benefit from a change of scenery in Derrick Pouliot.
With the Red Wings facing a serious salary cap dilemma, coupled with the team’s ongoing contract negotiations with free agent Andreas Athanasiou, something’s, or should I say, someone’s got to give in Hockeytown. Despite an extremely disappointing 2016-17 season, Sheahan may be the player who helps alleviate Detroit’s predicament.
Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman added more fuel to the trade fire on Thursday in his most recent 31 Thoughts article. Friedman speculated that a trade between the Wings and Penguins is highly likely and may, in fact, be an almost done deal:
At his season-opening media conference, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford indicated there were three options for the Penguins to consider. Riley Sheahan is one, and I think the parameters are all but agreed to.
As it stands, it’s likely that Sheahan will not be a part of the Red Wings’ opening night roster at Little Caesars Arena. If Detroit’s GM Ken Holland is able to swing a deal with Rutherford before the start of the 2017-18 NHL season, fans of both teams should be pleased.
What Detroit Would Gain
By trading Sheahan, the Red Wings would free up some much-needed cap space. The Wings would undoubtedly use the money to re-sign the speedy Athanasiou, thus ending the maddening deadlock between the two sides. Athanasiou, who has been using an offer from the KHL as leverage, has a higher offensive ceiling than Sheahan and will also be a more integral player in the organization’s future.
Athanasiou scored 18 goals in 2016-17, good for second on the roster. Sheahan, on the other hand, scored two goals, both during the final game of the regular season. While his two-goal campaign may be a one-time fluke, the possibility of paying/keeping Sheahan and losing a more-promising and electrifying prospect like Athanasiou would not sit well with disgruntled fans in Hockeytown.
Sheahan may do a lot of positive things that don’t necessarily show up on the score sheet but the Red Wings are not in a position to continue to allocate funds and ice time to such players. Two decades of sustained success has caught up to Detroit and the franchise is on the verge of having to officially and properly rebuild.
As Friedman stated, Pouliot may be the return on trading Sheahan to Pittsburgh. The eighth-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations during his time with the Penguins but could have a resurgence in a new system.
The Red Wings have several promising young blue-liners in their system, though most are not quite NHL ready. Adding Pouliot into the mix would provide Detroit with another young and affordable defensive option. At 23-years-old, he still has the potential to be an effective NHL defenseman and playing alongside his former teammate Trevor Daley in Detroit could help ease the transition.
What Pittsburgh Could Gain
If the Penguins are willing to add Sheahan to their roster, the veteran center would fill the void left by Nick Bonino who signed with the Nashville Predators during the offseason. The Athletic’s Craig Custance gave a brief scouting report on Sheahan in a recent tweet:
Yeah. Bottom six center. Responsible two-way player. Big body. Capable of 10-15 goals.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) September 22, 2017
While he didn’t live up to his goal expectations last season in Detroit, Sheahan could reach those numbers with a more dynamic offensive lineup like the Penguins. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s roster, the team’s other top two centers, Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin, would draw the attention away from a third-line center like Sheahan, something that could give him and his production a shot in the arm.
Sheahan is a decent professional hockey player and perhaps an even better human being off of the ice. He is never one to shy away from participating in team charity events and being an active face in the community. Like Pouliot, Sheahan has struggled to solidify his role with his current team and may be due for a change.