Last week, the Penguins extended forward Conor Sheary by signing him to a 3-year, $9 million ($3 million AAV) contract. After having an unprecedented regular season for an undrafted rookie, Sheary struggled to put up points in the playoffs and was scratched for a string of games.
Our Connor Andrews and Cody Flavell debate whether or not the Sheary deal was worth it.
“Conor Sheary was totally worth it.” -Connor Andrews
Recently one of the most influential Penguins’ players during the regular season signed a three year contract with a $3 million AAV. That player is the young Conor Sheary. This signing has gotten a lot of mixed opinions in the same way the Brian Dumoulin deal did. Some people agree with it and some do not, I am one that agrees with the signing and will try to shed more light upon why I do.
“He is nothing without Sidney Crosby”- That is the line that has been blurted out countless times by fans everywhere that do not agree with this signing. These fans will also point out that players such as Colby Armstrong, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis were all PPG players with Crosby, but what they won’t mention is all the players that did not mesh with Crosby as well as Sheary did. Lee Stempniak, Jarome Iginla, Scott Wilson, David Winnik, Steve Sullivan, Beau Bennett, and countless others did not mesh with Crosby’s line. Heck, even Phil Kessel did not work on Crosby’s line. I personally have not seen a line mesh this well since 2012 when Kunitz and Dupuis were on Sidney Crosby’s line. Both that line and the current line with Crosby were virtually unstoppable together when they clicked. Playing on Crosby’s line isn’t an easy task, and Sheary has proven that he can keep up for sure. His game is still developing and getting better as time goes on, and as time goes on he should become more of a perfect mold for Crosby’s line.
Another argument that fans opposed to this deal will say is that his playoff slump makes him unworthy of this contract. The somewhat amusing and ironic thing is that most of the fans saying this are also the ones who wanted to pay Nick Bonino $4 million dollars despite him having just as many point as Conor Sheary during the playoffs. Most of these fans are also the ones saying that Carl Hagelin just was in a “slump” this season and during the playoffs, and that he will have a bounceback year. Yes, Conor Sheary’s early playoff slump was not ideal, but when he broke out of it at the start of the Nashville series Crosby’s line was basically unmatched. Another point to make is that yes, playoffs do matter a lot, but without regular season contributors are a key part. And without big regular season contributors there may not even be a playoffs appearance for said team.
The last point to touch on is the contract itself, which in my opinion is a very good contract. Sheary is well worth the $3 million dollar price tag, and compared to other deals around the league it isn’t a bad deal at all. Keep in mind that fourth line players like Cal Clutterbuck are making $3.5 million per year. The Penguins also have other cap issues to worry about, such as Hagelin’s $4 million price tag that may be moved if he doesn’t perform this year. This deal was also a bridge deal, and with the salary cap looking like a steady $2 million increase per year this contract could end up being a steal in the last year of his contract.
All in all, I believe the Sheary contract was a smart signing by GMJR. He locks up a key player on Sidney Crosby’s line and a key contributor to both cups during the past two seasons. If Sheary keeps up his play we could easily see another 50+ point season for only $3 million dollars which is a steak itself. If he doesn’t workout as planned then the Penguins are paying a third liner $3 million dollars which is not even a bad deal with today’s cap hit. I think with the steady rise of the cap ceiling and thus inflation of contracts this three year deal is nowhere as near catastrophic as people are making it seem.
“Sheary’s signing kind of puzzles me.” -Cody Flavell
Admittedly, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Sheary. When he’s playing well, I like him. When he’s struggling, obviously those feelings are the opposite.
I will say that Sheary was very impressive last regular season and that his line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel was the most dominant in the entire league for a stretch of time. As Connor eluded to, the line was incredible at the beginning of the Cup Finals.
In my opinion, $3 million is a hefty price to pay for a streaky player. Not that Sheary was expected to score 20+ goals and be the left winger on the league’s best line, but he still goes through spurts.
This is being considered a bridge deal which I completely understand. Matt Murray received a bridge deal before last season, and deservedly so. Sheary, to me, didn’t.
If you watch Sheary during his slumps, which every player does go through, he seems to take them a bit harder. He second guesses himself. He grips the stick a bit harder. But it seems to be very frequent.
I’ve seen comparisons to Martin St. Louis for Sheary and I think those come in a bit far fetched.
I will say that seeing Sheary on the top line for $3 million is something I can get used to.
I think that the three years is a positive for when some of these new wingers, such as Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese, get to the NHL. It will make him an expendable piece. Having term will entice a team to potentially pay a bit more for his services.