Born: December 7, 1991 (24 years old)
Birthplace: St. Catherine's, ON, Canada
Acquired: 2010 Draft, 1st round (21st overall)
Contract Status: RFA
Going into this season, expectations were high that Sheahan could take another step forward from 2014-2015. With Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg getting closer to the end of their careers (the former unfortunately much closer), the team was hoping Sheahan could make a case to be a top-six center of the future. At 6'3", his size and hard wrister indicated potential for success on the power play.
Sheahan played in 81 games this year, important on a team in which injuries have been a problem. He played most of the season in a bottom six role, not standing out either positively or negatively for much of the season. While fans would obviously want more of the former, the latter is a promising sign that he doesn't often make glaring mistakes.
His 5 v 5 zone starts show a drop of 8% in Offensive Zone starts from last season (from 39.31% to 31.16), with most of his starts taking place in the neutral zone (36.06%). A player like Brad Richards coming into the lineup, along with Jeff Blashill taking over for Babcock, led to a different usage for Sheahan. His ice time decreased, and he spent more time on the PK and less time on the PP.
While Sheahan's offensive numbers decreased, much of that can be attributed to his decreased power play time along with Detroit's
putrid inefficient PP. He actually had more 5 v 5 goals this season (8) than last (7), while his 5 v 5 assists dropped from 15 last season to 11 this season. Obviously you would like to see both those numbers go up, but it's not as big a drop off as a first glance would indicate.
What He Did vs. Expectations
Sheahan played about half of his minutes this season with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, two players whose offensive stats took a step back from 2014-15 as well. When you look at relative stats for all three, however, Sheahan's are worse than those of the other two, in one case, substantially worse.
The stat that jumps out is the first column. 5 v 5 GF% RelTM represents the percentage of goals scored either for or against the player relative to the rest of his teammates. A positive number indicates that a player has more goals scored for his team than against his team when he is on the ice compared to the team as a whole. Since the Red Wings total GF% was 48.3, that means that over 60% of 5 v 5 goals scored with Sheahan on the ice were for the other team. (The second column is CorsiFor% Relative to Teammates).
While this one statistic doesn't mean that Sheahan is necessarily to blame for Nyquist and Tatar not producing to last year's point totals, it makes it difficult to say that his regression this year is because of his linemates.
One last statistic to look at is PDO. His 98.5 PDO for the entire season indicates that Sheahan was on the wrong side of lady luck, giving optimism for seeing the pendulum swing the other way next season.
Final Grade - B minus
I want to give Sheahan a better grade. How can you not want that for a player who accepted a promposal from a girl with brain cancer? To me, his performance down the stretch elevates him above "average," but his stats don't make the case for a higher grade. Out of all the current Wings, his role next year may be among the most up in the air. With the right linemates, he certainly could succeed as a second line center, but even with Datsyuk's likely departure, would he play center ahead of Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou? Will he be switched to wing? What if Alexander Radulov or Steven Stamkos wears the winged wheel next season?
Assuming no major changes, Sheahan would be a great fit for a third line center. Assuming he can find a spot in the roster next year, he has a strong chance to be a contributor for years to come.
Bye Chet, LGRW