The Penguins made a splash on Saturday acquiring Riley Sheahan and a fifth round draft choice for Scott Wilson and a third rounder. The hope is that Sheahan can fill the third-line center void left by the departures of Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen.
This trade came just a day after TSN’s Bob McKenzie pointed to the possibility arising due to Detroit’s signing of Andreas Anthanasiou and being too close to the cap ceiling.
Before Sheahan or Wilson even suit up in their new uniforms, the trade looks like a good one on the surface for both clubs. The Red Wings will add to their winger depth. The Penguins can use Sheahan as a trial for the third-line center role. If they like him, great. If they don’t he could always be shuffled to the fourth line and subsequent moves can be made for the role.
Sheahan is a 6’3″, 214 pound center that struggled mightily last season. He played in 80 contests scoring two goals. He did set a career high in faceoff percentage, though, at 50.6%. He has a career high of 14 goals. He is an RFA at the end of this season.
While Sheahan may be an upgrade over both Carter Rowney and Greg McKegg, the question of him being a legitimate third-line center will be answered over time. Assuming Rowney’s injury Saturday night would keep him out on Tuesday when Sheahan likely will debut, here are the potential line combinations:
If Rowney does come back, it could complicate these lines a little bit. With or without Rowney in the line up, these lines look just that much deeper without McKegg in the top-9. Awaiting the potential additions of Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese to a healthy line up makes things even more scary.
If nothing else, Sheahan brings more depth to a Penguins line up that has an abundance of it on their wings but lacked it down the center. McKegg and Rowney earned their spots in camp while Teddy Blueger and Adam Johnson played their part in the competition.
Sheahan was a former first-round draft choice in 2010 and played his collegiate hockey at Notre Dame with Bryan Rust. Eventually, we could see these two playing together on a line if things get shaken up.
Jim Rutherford likes making moves way earlier than the trade deadline because he likes beating other GM’s to the punch. He will have a few months to evaluate Sheahan’s play before making another move in search of his permanent third-line center.