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Sheahan breakthrough needs finishing touch

Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 4:07 p.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Riley Sheahan

Riley Sheahan (Credit: Notre Dame Athletic Department)

The Detroit Red Wings drafted Riley Sheahan to be a scorer and they’re still waiting for him to realize that potential at the college level.

The 20-year-old center has quietly developed into a big, strong all-around force during his three NCAA seasons at Notre Dame, and — offensive breakthrough or no offensive breakthrough — has the look of a future NHLer.

But Sheahan, who the Red Wings selected 21st overall in 2010, is ever-so-close to emerging as an elite-level prospect.

“The biggest thing he still could improve is his scoring touch,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “He’s had a lot of chances and he can work on his finishing skills. Confidence has a lot to do with it. As he’s gained confidence, he’s gotten better, but he still hasn’t been a dominant offensive player.”

The 6-foot-2 212-pounder has already set career-highs in goals (nine) and points (24) through 27 games and sits third in Fighting Irish scoring. Evidence of what he’s capable of came in the form of a two-goal, one-assist, six-shot outburst that earned him the first star in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Jan. 7.

“He’s shown flashes,” Jackson said. “The game against Minnesota he was the best player on the ice. He was a dominant player both offensively and defensively and I’d love to see him do that on a consistent basis. This is one area he’s improved on, but it’s an area where he still has work to do.”

Aside from scoring, everything else is falling into place for Sheahan. With impressive skating ability, he has matured into a responsible two-way player who is winning more and more faceoffs and logs ice time on both special teams. Jackson often puts him on the power-play point to utilize his hard one-timer. He also called Sheahan his “best penalty-killer.”

“He has good instincts and he has a real good stick offensively and defensively,” Jackson said. “A lot of players don’t have a good defensive stick but Riley does and part of that comes with anticipation. He’s had numerous breakaways when killing penalties. He has good hands, and he’s become really strong in 1-on-1 situations using his strength, his reach and his hands to beat defenders.”

Jackson said an off-ice incident prior to the NHL draft in April 2010 has prevented Sheahan from getting a captain’s letter at Notre Dame, but that he’s emerged as a leader nonetheless.

“The guys look up to him — he’s a high-profile guy but he doesn’t have a big ego,” Jackson said. “He’s matured a lot in his three years. He’s grown up a lot. We stuck by him during those tough times and he responded positively to it.”

The Red Wings often pull their top prospects out of college after three seasons, with Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard at the top of the list. It’s not clear what their plans are for Sheahan, but it’s hard to imagine another year in college hurting him, especially if he finally starts dominating on a game-in, game-out basis.

“Confidence is the biggest thing for him at the next level, and when he goes, it’s important that he’s prepared for it mentally,” Jackson said. “The physical skills are there. He’s a strong kid with a great hockey body and a great hockey mind and he’s a very intelligent player. The thing for him is confidence and consistency.”

NOTES: Defenseman Xavier Ouellet (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) earned his league’s first star of the month award for January after piling up four goals and 12 assists for 16 points along with a plus-8 rating in 11 games … Center Alan Quine (Peterborough, OHL) is on fire with nine goals and five assists in his past nine games. With 57 points on the season, he is 25th in OHL scoring and 19th in goals … Forward Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) continues his impressive point-per-game pace on the farm with 45 points in 44 games. The Red Wings haven’t had a Grand Rapids prospect average a point-per-game since Jiri Hudler put up 96 points in 76 games back in 2005-06 … Defenseman Richard Nedomlel (Swift Current, WHL) has been more productive of late with three goals and 11 assists in his past 18 games.

Following is this week’s statistical report.


Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids PRO AHL 43 9 9 18 15 -1 100
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids PRO AHL 37 6 7 13 29 -3 49
Nyquist, Gustav Grand Rapids PRO AHL 44 15 30 45 16 +3 118
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids PRO AHL 48 13 23 36 33 +3 145
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids PRO AHL 45 12 15 27 20 +2 90
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids PRO AHL 35 4 8 12 19 -3 61
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids PRO AHL 34 5 3 8 71 -1 47
Ehrhardt, Travis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 13 0 2 2 15 +4 19
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids PRO AHL 48 7 6 13 25 -6 69
Pare, Francis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 47 8 18 26 14 -10 110
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids PRO AHL 33 2 6 8 17 +4 56
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids PRO AHL 43 7 6 13 22 -1 68
Smith, Brendan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 42 8 20 28 66 +7 86
Piche, Sebastien Grand Rapids PRO AHL 22 0 3 3 18 -7 19
Pyett, Logan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 45 2 16 18 42 -2 110
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids PRO AHL 11 2 1 3 2 -1 17
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids PRO AHL 3 1 1 2 2 0 1
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 45 2 14 16 27 -6 90
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 34 5 20 25 12 -4 66
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 51 16 31 47 56 0 151
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 47 14 21 35 19 +9 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 57 7 26 33 67 -28 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 47 22 34 56 34 -2 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 47 14 24 38 47 +18 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 52 26 31 57 19 -19 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 40 25 34 59 29 +35 160
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 21 3 1 4 18 -3 44
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State COL NCAA 30 5 17 22 2 +8 57
Nicastro, Max Boston U. COL NCAA 25 2 6 8 30 -1 40
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 27 6 4 10 30 0 46
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 31 3 6 9 27 +11 64
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 29 9 15 24 18 +1 97
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 43 14 18 32 8 +3 182
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 41 3 8 11 26 +15 66
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 32 9 10 19 57 -9 74
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 46 14 22 36 10 -5 102
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 33 1 6 7 12 +6 47
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 4 0 0 0 2 -3 2


Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 40 24 10 5 3 2.81 .916
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 16 3 7 1 1 3.39 .879
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 13 6 6 0 0 3.74 .879
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 13 5 6 1 0 2.68 .905


  1. Scott says:

    I think Sheahan would benefit from going the four years. What does he have to lose? It would probably help him get more confidence and and take a little pressure off him so he doesn’t have to worry about contributing as a pro next year. Plus getting a four year degree is something that could help anyone’s confidence. Most of the other prospects look like they are having a great year. Was hoping for a little more production from Tatar I do have to admit.

  2. […] Sheahan breakthrough needs finishing touchRedWingsCentral.comBy Matthew Wuest – Red Wings Central The Detroit Red Wings drafted Riley Sheahan to be a scorer and they're still waiting for him to realize that potential at the college level. The 20-year-old center has quietly developed into a big, strong all-around … […]

  3. Sheckman9 says:

    I’ve been thinking for a while Sheahan should stay and graduate. Everyone develops different skills at different rates. It sounds like he has the defensive side of the game to probably walk right into the AHL without too much trouble, but as they say, the offensive side is a delicate, confidence-related concern… Add to that how stacked GR will be anyway and I figure the decision is all but made.

    Looks like Nedomlel might be another late-round steal. I’m very excited about this guy. I can’t wait to see what his game looks like two years into GR! Speaking of late-round steals, any news on Marchenko’s injury… I heard he was close to coming back a while ago and then haven’t seen any games played. Also happy to see Quine and Ouellet showing why they were such high picks.

    On another note, Emmerton’s play with the big club has been really strong of late. It seems he has much more potential than I thought. At the beginning of the season, I didn’t feel he was an NHLer and now I’m left hoping he’s not trade-deadline fodder. Either way, another great pick/ development story and I’m confident he’ll have a successful pro career.

    … Awaiting the deadline with mixed emotions.

  4. Joakim says:

    Ken Holland is the best GM in the NHL by far. His team leads the league, he has a complete set of draft-picks, and he has one of the best prospect-systems out there with, according to, ‘a very nice group of five or six elite prospects’. I personally believe there could easily be ten NHLers in the system. Furthermore, his pro-scouting is top-notch, a fact underscored by the free agent signing of Ian White. I’d guess HoF D-man Mark Howe deserves much credit. And what’s more, Holland has more capspace than any other free-spending GM.

    For what it’s worth, claims that Marchenko is out with ‘Knee surgery, expected back in April or May’. I think Marchenko will surprise many, and I get the sense that Datsyuk would like to have a Russian protégé. Emmerton has really taken the ball and run with it, precisely what Babcock loves to see.

    The only deadline trade I would favor is a Selanne-rental for a draft pick; I don’t think any other player on the block could have an appreciable impact in the current group come May. Actually, there’s a real risk of bad sentiment and an upset group-dynamic if someone with the wrong traits is added to the locker room. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ I’m hoping for one or two big free agent signings in July, though. GO Red Wings!

  5. NHLrick says:

    Sheahan has never impressed me, I remember watching the draft when the wings selected him and wondering why. Seems like defensive responsibility is easier to developed than offensive “touch”. But in Holland we trust I suppose. But still you rarely see the wings draft size over skill and that’s what Sheahan seems like to me. I hope he contributes some day but I don’t see it. Not with the skill in the system he’ll be competing with.

  6. Jay says:

    I think Sheahan needs to come to GR after the end of this season. Notre Dame plays a very, very defensive system. They have ten NHL draft picks and none of the them put up a ton of points. He is not going to develop his scoring touch if he is required to hang out in the very high slot like a third defensemen. NHLrick I agree that he may not turn out to be a top six forward, but there is no question in my mind that he will play in the NHL in the near future.

  7. NHLrick says:

    I hope you’re right. I know Notre Dame plays a defense first style. It just seems to me the type of guys you hope catch on offensively are later round guys. But as you say, if he turns into a solid third line NHL player I count that as a success regardless of draft position. So I guess time will tell.

  8. Sheckman9 says:

    Man, deadline trade prices are HIGH! A second and third round pick for Grossman!?

  9. yvr says:

    Nash will be going to LA from inside reports; he will make them quite a bit harder to beat in playoffs….Babcock loves Nash and Kenny does not like him so much; so Kh will never give the number of prospects, draft picks, or roster player that Columbus is asking…Nash would put the Wings in the driver’s seat for SC but price is too steep for my liking.

  10. yvr says:

    Unrelated to this story but important for those who follow the prospects…Tvrdon, Vancouver Giants, is waiting news from league office regarding number of games suspension he will receive for a match penalty on Wed…he was suspended for 2 games earlier this year for instigating a post-game brawl…sounds like a 5-6 game sit…

  11. mm says:

    I also was surprised to see the Wings take this player as he seems really against the grain of what the Wings value. To me it seems like an effort to counterbalance all the skill players they are stocked with. I think the hope is he can grow to contribute in a Darren McCarty/Dallas Drake type fashion. If so then he may end up being a solid pick. But even similar players like Abby had more clutch/finishing potential (but maybe less defensive acumen?). I can’t say for sure if he should stay in college or go to GR. If they value his defense he should probably come up and start playing professionally, if they want him to find his scoring touch he should probably finish in college. Not sure what their ultimate plan is for him, but I don’t doubt for a second that Ken will make the right decision.

  12. Sheckman9 says:

    Yvr, what did Tvrdon do to warrant a suspension? And how’s the fishin’ out there?

  13. AK Scott says:

    I’ve seen Sheahan play twice, and came away quite impressed. He does everything well. Good skater, good hands, smart, tough in the corners, lots of hustle. He made a couple of very slick moves offensively also, that hinted at what kind of offensive player he might become. I’d compare him to Danny Cleary but w/ a bigger body & better hands. Don’t know if he’ll develop into a “star” type player, but I can’t imagine him not being a good solid NHL player in 2-4 years.

  14. yvr says:

    Tvrdon received a match for spearing… Quick Launch

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