Why The Red Wings Didn’t Trade Riley Sheahan

By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

After a hot start, the Red Wings’ trade deadline firesale simmered out.

Solid returns for Brendan Smith and Tomas Jurco were dampened by the underwhelming return for Thomas Vanek and the retention of Riley Sheahan.

In regard to Sheahan, who was rumored to be drawing interest from several teams, it appears the Wings’ asking price was too high. Detroit wasn’t shopping him as the struggling forward without a goal in 59 games, but as the young, affordable, two-way center with a track record of solid NHL success.

And in conversations with other GMs, Ken Holland apparently wouldn’t budge.

“The Red Wings are saying, ‘Don’t look at his production (this year) if you’re going to make an offer. We’re not looking at him as a zero-goal guy, we’re looking at him as a young center with size,”’ Craig Custance told 97.1 The Ticket on Wednesday morning. “‘So if you’re going to make us an offer, you have to ignore his production this year.’ Obviously, teams are like, ‘Well, that’s really hard to do, this guy has zero goals, let’s make a deal.'”

In appraising Sheahan, though, the Wings saw a smooth-skating 25-year-old with 27 goals in the last two seasons, positive possession numbers over the course of his career and a team-friendly $2.075 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season, after which he’ll be a restricted free agent.

Detroit’s demands – rumored to be as high as a first-round pick – were reflective of that.

Fox Sports Detroit analyst Chris Osgood, who said on Tuesday night there were “five to 10 teams” inquiring about Sheahan, preached faith in the Wings’ 2010 first-round draft pick.

“He’s had an off year, 100 percent he has, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. He’s still a good player. I know people are going to think I’m crazy for saying that because he has zero goals, but previous to this, he’s been right around 14,” Osgood told 97.1 The Ticket.

Sheahan scored 13 goals in 2014-15 and 14 in 2015-16, his two full seasons in the NHL. That he’s plummeted to zero in 2016-17 can be blamed at least partly on poor luck; he’s still averaging about 1.3 shots per game, not too far off from his average of about 1.5 over the previous two seasons.

Plus, the Wings feel he’s effective as a checking center, offensive struggles notwithstanding.

“He knows how to play the game, he’s very reliable defensively,” Osgood went on. “Yes, he’s a minus-19, but everything that (could have) gone wrong in the calendar year for Riley Sheahan has gone wrong.”

That had some teams hoping they could buy low.

“To me, the reason everybody wants him is they know the kid’s potential moving forward. He’s a third-line center that could be very good,” said Osgood. “Listen, he could have an unreal year next year and score 20 goals and we’ll call him the comeback player of the year, right? So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and quit on Riley Sheahan.”

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