The Detroit Red Wings drafted Riley Sheahan to be a scorer, but it’s on the defensive side of the puck where he may ultimately make his money in the NHL.
Sheahan, a center who turns 22 on Dec. 7, is in his second full American Hockey League season with the Grand Rapids Griffins and has been working tirelessly on the little details of his game and excelling defensively while producing three goals and five assists through his first 16 contests.
“He’s really grasped the role of being a shut-down, checking center,” said Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, on the NHL Network’s Hockey Prospect Radio show on Sirius XM. “He takes a lot of pride in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill. All those little things are so valuable at the next level. It’s not all about putting up numbers and playing on the power play.”
The Red Wings, who selected the 6-foot-2 212-pounder 21st overall in 2010, compared Sheahan to Johan Franzen on draft day. But in three NCAA seasons at Notre Dame, Sheahan never exceeded nine goals or 25 points and had a career points-per-game average of just 0.56. He did pick up a nomination for CCHA Top Defensive Forward as a senior in 2011-12, and that proved to be a sign of things to come.
Sheahan is big and strong and has outstanding hockey sense in all three zones. His quick stick is a major asset in the faceoff circle and serves him well breaking up plays and pickpocketing the opposition.
But just because Sheahan has developed the defensive side of his game so proficiently doesn’t necessarily mean all hope is lost of him becoming an offensive contributor. He had 16 points in 24 playoff games en route to a Calder Cup championship last season and has flashed the ability to score. He can use his big body to protect the puck and he drives hard to the net.
Taking Franzen as an example, the big Swedish winger broke into the NHL as a checker and served in a depth role before breaking out with a 27-goal campaign at age 28.
“His hockey sense and his skill are underrated right now, but over time, when he solidifies himself as a player, you’ll see a little bit more offensive production,” Wright said.
With his waiver exemption set to expire after this season, Sheahan is expected to graduate to Detroit in 2014-15.
NOTES: Right-winger Anthony Mantha (Val-d’Or, QMJHL) finished the CHL’s Canada-Russia Super Series with two goals and an assist in two games for Team QMJHL. Wright told Hockey Prospect Radio that Mantha reminds him of former Rocket Richard Trophy winner Rick Nash. “The ability to score goals and to beat guys one-on-one — there are a lot of similarities,” said Wright, who played with Nash from 2000 to 2004 in Columbus. Wright cautioned Mantha isn’t quite at Nash’s level as a prospect — Nash was the first overall pick in 2002 — and that Mantha needs to learn to be a “consistent, all-around player” who plays 200 feet of the ice … Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) suffered a 3-2 shootout loss for Team OHL in the Super Series on Nov. 25. He stopped 21 of 23 shots and turned aside six of eight shootout attempts and did what he could to assert himself as a candidate for Canada’s world junior team … Right-winger Zach Nastasiuk (Owen Sound, OHL) appeared in one Super Series contest and didn’t record a point … Defenseman Mitchell Wheaton (Kelowna, WHL) suffered an upper-body injury on a hit from behind last week and could miss significant time. Wheaton sat out half of his draft year with a shoulder injury and was hoping to bounce back this season … Right-winger Trevor Parkes (Toledo, ECHL) leads the Walleye in scoring with 10 goals among 17 points in 13 games. In his short time with Toledo over three seasons, he has scored 28 goals and 51 points in just 36 contests and is deserving of an AHL job … Right-winger Mitchell Callahan (Grand Rapids, AHL) is doing everything he can to prove his worth to the Red Wings. He notched a hat trick on Nov. 20 and has eight goals and four assists along with a team-best plus-10 rating and 27 penalty minutes in 19 games. He’s the third highest scoring forward on the active roster behind Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen … Jurco took over the team lead in scoring from Gustav Nyquist and has 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points in 19 games. Nine of his goals have been recorded in the past 13 games … Defenseman Mike McKee (Western Michigan, NCAA) has been a periodic healthy scratch and his pledge to play a disciplined game appears to have gone out the window with 40 penalty minutes in eight contests … Defenseman Ben Marshall (Minnesota, NCAA) is known for his offense, dropped the gloves and fought on Nov. 23. He has two goals and two assists in 12 games … Defenseman Nick Jensen (Toledo, ECHL) made his season debut last week. He had been out since July with a shoulder injury.
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||16||0||11||11||14||0||34|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||8||4||12||27||+10||32|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||10||12||22||8||+9||54|
|Marchenko, Alexey||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||1||9||10||4||+7||14|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||16||3||5||8||8||+2||23|
|Sproul, Ryan||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||5||8||13||8||+10||43|
|Glendening, Luke||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||12||3||4||7||14||+5||14|
|Jarnkrok, Calle||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||6||5||11||6||+10||32|
|Pulkkinen, Teemu||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||7||6||13||12||+8||39|
|Frk, Martin||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||6||0||0||0||6||-3||3|
|Tvrdon, Marek||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||16||3||3||6||8||-1||45|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||5||0||1|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||0||0||0||0||+3||3|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||17||2||3||5||10||+4||17|
|Ouellet, Xavier||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||17||1||4||5||2||+8||24|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||3||0||0||0||2||-2||1|
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||25||9||12||21||10||-6||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||24||5||7||12||44||+2||–|
|De Haas, James||Clarkson||ECAC||NCAA||14||2||3||5||10||-2||20|
|McKee, Mike||W. Michigan||BIG-10||NCAA||8||0||0||0||40||0||0|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||USHL/JR-A||JR-A||13||7||5||12||2||–||–|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Coreau, Jared||Grand Rapids||AHL||1||0||1||0||0||3.82||.846|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||10||7||2||1||1||2.11||.925|