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Sheahan thriving with Griffins on the ice

Published Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 8:48 a.m. under 2012-13 RWC Reports
Riley Sheahan

Riley Sheahan (Credit: Mark Newman)

Riley Sheahan made more than his share of headlines for his off-ice conduct when he was arrested for drunken driving in October. But with that fading into the past, it might be time for headlines to start focusing on Sheahan’s accomplishments on the ice.

The recently-turned 21-year-old forward has, on the surface, put the embarrassing incident behind him and become one of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ top performers as an American Hockey League rookie, fourth in team scoring with 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points in 50 games along with a club-best plus-13 rating.

And he’s getting better as the season progresses. Sheahan has put up 11 of those goals and 13 of those assists for 24 points in the past 27 games in an impressive run since Dec. 21.

“Riley is somebody who is extremely committed to being an NHL player — he has been from Day 1 here,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “He’s got a real big strong base, real strong on his skates, real strong on the puck, a real good mind for the game and is a real good defensive player.”

No doubt, it’s been a smooth transition to the pro game for the 6-foot-2, 213-pound center after three seasons at the NCAA level with Notre Dame, where he never once hit double digits in goals nor did he top the 25-point barrier.

The biggest question mark surrounding Sheahan, aside from two alcohol-related incidents that have cast a shadow on his character in the eyes of some, is how much offensive upside he has at the NHL level.

He’s on an 82-game pace for a 24-goal, 52-point AHL rookie campaign — about the same production as Justin Abdelkader at the same age and stage — but the Red Wings drafted Sheahan in the first round, 21st overall, in 2010 because they envisioned him as a big-bodied, top-six power forward in the Johan Franzen mold, not to be a checker.

Blashill said the skill set is there for him to realize that potential. And it’s easy to forget, Franzen didn’t have a true breakout season until he was 28.

“His strength on his skates and his strength on his stick also gives him an extra second to take time with the puck and make good offensive plays and he’s shown an ability to do that,” Blashill said. “How prolific a point producer he’ll be will be determined in time. But he has very good offensive skills to go along with an outstanding defensive set. To me, he has a great, great opportunity to play in the NHL.”

As Blashill points out, there is little doubt Sheahan will be an NHL regular. That the former CCHA top defensive forward nominee has already won Blashill’s trust speaks volumes of his all-around makeup.

“I have no problem putting him out against the other team’s best players at any point,” Blashill said. “He’s really done a good job that way.”

Sheahan made his one-game NHL debut last April and could merit consideration for a recall this season depending on injuries and the Red Wings’ specific needs.

NOTES: How about defenseman Brian Lashoff? He goes from decent third-pairing AHLer to signing a three-year, one-way contract extension this week to possibly put him in Detroit through 2016 if he continues to excel. He’s averaging almost 19 minute per game, and is third on the team in penalty-killing minutes with almost three per outing. Add in 23 hits and 21 blocked shots and you have a Mike Babock favorite. Babcock put it best to MLive.com earlier this year, saying Lashoff is “better here than in the American League, maybe because the game’s more organized.” … Forwards Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson also continue to excel in Detroit. Both are among the Red Wings’ top 10 scorers, Tatar with six points in 11 games with 12:01 average time on ice; Andersson with five points in nine games and 10:13 ATOI … All this talk of Lashoff, Tatar and Andersson has left forward Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) almost a forgotten man on the farm, but he sits one point off the AHL scoring lead behind Syracuse’s Tyler Johnson with 52 points in 51 games … More on the farm — Jan Mursak was waived this week and is back in Grand Rapids. Every time Mursak has had a chance to prove himself in the NHL, he’s gotten hurt. His speed and underrated skills could still make him an NHLer, but will he stay in North America when his contract expires in the summer? More money may await elsewhere … Right-winger Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL) has climbed to 18th in the QMJHL scoring race with 71 points in 46 games as he excels on a line with league scoring king Jonathan Drouin. Frk’s Mooseheads have clinched first overall with 10 games left, having won 49 of 58 games. If they win their final 10 games, they’ll set the QMJHL record for victories in a season … Forward Philippe Hudon (Victoriaville, QJMJHL) is unlikely to get a contract by his June 1 deadline, but he is producing more lately, with 16 points in his past 20 games among his 31 points in 56 games overall.

Following is this week’s statistical report.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Nyquist, Gustav Grand Rapids AHL PRO 51 19 33 52 28 +10 148
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 49 16 17 33 31 0 103
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids AHL PRO 36 10 17 27 55 +1 84
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids AHL PRO 34 3 6 9 35 +6 39
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids AHL PRO 36 2 4 6 23 +4 38
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 44 19 20 39 44 +13 147
Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 48 6 15 21 26 +2 60
Nicastro, Max Grand Rapids AHL PRO 12 1 2 3 5 +1 10
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids AHL PRO 31 3 5 8 36 +1 24
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 50 15 17 32 25 +13 78
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 43 1 4 5 40 -3 55
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 47 10 7 17 85 +2 85
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 50 7 7 14 18 -5 69
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 19 1 2 3 23 -1 13
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids AHL PRO 11 1 2 3 2 -1 15
Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 0 -1 0
Coetzee, Willie Toledo ECHL PRO 48 21 24 45 14 +3 211
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo ECHL PRO 40 11 30 41 26 +17 113
Fournier, Gleason Toledo ECHL PRO 10 0 0 0 8 +5 11
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 3 2 2 4 2 -1 14
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State WCHA NCAA 32 3 22 25 12 +16 47
Marshall, Ben Minnesota WCHA NCAA 32 5 10 15 18 +10 52
McKee, Mike Lincoln USHL/JR-A USHL 35 3 15 18 250 +15 52
De Haas, James Penticton USHL/JR-A BCHL 49 5 18 23 19
Frk, Martin Halifax CHL QMJHL 48 30 41 71 74 +27 145
Ouellet, Xavier Blainville-Boisbriand CHL QMJHL 43 9 27 36 42 +15 140
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville CHL QMJHL 56 12 19 31 52 +2 114
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie CHL OHL 42 19 42 61 37 +7
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie CHL OHL 58 26 34 60 28 +11
Quine, Alan Belleville CHL OHL 45 19 40 59 20 +8
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver CHL WHL 18 8 14 22 16 +2
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current CHL WHL 63 5 19 24 87 -14
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 51 13 27 40 12 -4 133
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 49 1 22 23 32 +7 63
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 55 13 20 33 47 +4 245
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 44 4 5 9 6 -2 46
Bodin, Rasmus Tranas EUR SWE-3 6 0 3 3 0 -5
Bodin, Rasmus HV-71 EUR-JR SWE-J20 13 0 1 1 10 -1 11

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 44 22 16 4 1 3.46 .903
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 22 12 9 1 2 2.92 .893
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 4 0 3 0 0 4.32 .847
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 27 17 8 1 1 2.36 .913
Mrazek, Petr Toledo ECHL 3 2 1 0 0 2.02 .944
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 25 14 7 3 2 2.52 .909
22 Comments
  1. iNcHicORe says:

    It really bums me out that Datsyuk is playing with Abdelkader and Cleary when Nyquist proved last year that he compliments Datsyuk really well. That is my only complaint about the Red Wings right now.

    On the other hand, their defense has surprised me lately. Quincey, Smith, Kindl and Ericsson have been playing exceptionally well.

  2. Adam Banks says:

    YVR that is an interesting thought. I would love for the Wings to show that much confidence in a young prospect, especially if they really think he is ready. It was a shame to watch Smith get sent down for the few years he was with the Griffins, lets hope the lower salary cap pushes management to get some of that young blood/low cap hit lineup going.

  3. RW19 says:

    One player that I would love to hear more about is St. Cloud State’s Nick Jensen. I keep reading bits and pieces on line about him. Great passer, solid in his own zone and already 22 years old so he has grwon into his body. Seems to have a lot of respect accross the various college hockey boards.

    Seems that he is turning pro this year. Has anyone heard that?

  4. Levi says:

    Hopefully KH can package someone from our 3rd/4th line log jam and a defenseman with a pick to add some scoring. We’re going to have to move some guys forsure. I say put up Miller, White and a pick and see what’s out there. Both guys are UFAs and I know we wouldn’t get an all star scorer but anything is better than Abby playing with Pav. If Nyquist was playing in Abby’s spot we wouldn’t be only scoring 3 goals in 3 games. I think Babs is a great coach and I’m sure he has his reason but Abby is really dragging our scoring down. Maybe switch Abby and Franzen that gives both top lines 2 skilled players with a big body.

  5. Tom Rady says:

    Agreed, I think there will be seven or eight Detroit prospects at Grand Rapids next year. I would say they will not have room for all of them, so some will have to start at Toledo of the East Coast League where they split the team with Chicago. Or some might stay in Europe.

  6. YVR says:

    @Levi…absolutely agree with your post….Wings have way to similar players and Kenny needs to parlay a package for a top 6 forward at least.

    @RW19….if you click on Jensen’s name in prospect list you will see he does not have to be signed until Aug.15th, 2014 so no doubt Kenny will wait until last minute as always.

    @THE WHOLE WORLD…Holland needs to get off his a!! and get a couple of top 6 forwards and a top 4 D-man….they are out there; remember in years gone by when KH made some great trades to improve the team…he has failed to do that in the past 4 yrs.

  7. ryan says:

    Holland will make trades when they are to be had. Hopefully he trades low for the next Brad Stuart winner rather than trade high for an overpaid Erik Johnson dud.



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