One of the stranger stories in regards to the Wings around the trade deadline was Riley Sheahan. For the most part, he wasn’t on specific trade lists for Wings fans outside of the general “sell anybody who isn’t named Mantha, Larkin, or Athanasiou” consideration. Then we got a report that Toronto had asked about getting him (before they snapped Brian Boyle out of Tampa) and the need to move him was as driven as the interest in other GMs acquiring him all of a sudden.
At the end of the day, the 25-year old center with a year left on a $2.075M AAV deal that would expire with him as an RFA remained a Red Wing. In last night’s 30 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman added to the story of Sheahan at the deadline:
6. Detroit had a lot of activity on Riley Sheahan, maybe about 10 teams. The Red Wings pulled him back, deciding to try to figure out themselves what has happened this year. It’s a fair question: if so many others see value, what are we missing? It’s been a nightmare for Sheahan, 0 goals in 59 games. He’s had a lot of different wingers, been moved out of the middle himself. But, big centres aren’t easy to replace. Sometimes the best thing to do is fix your own problems, hope to reap the benefits later. That’s the plan with Sheahan.
So that’s maybe 1/3rd of NHL GMs calling Ken Holland to ask about Sheahan. The knee-jerk thought is how Holland could have failed to sell with that much buzz surrounding the player. Of course, this is predicated on the concept that with that much action, there had to have been a bidding war, but that’s not what Friedman or anybody else is reporting.
What’s more likely is that a bunch of GMs called a rival GM to see if they could catch Ken Holland selling low on a decently valuable piece because that player is having an awful season. Trading for Riley Sheahan at the deadline would be a depth move for a kid who should still have the NHL ceiling of a decent third line center, but so far this season he hasn’t shown that and there’s a good possibility that it’s going to take a mental reset by Sheahan over the summer to get back to that. That’s not something teams pay premium for at the deadline.
But if you can get a GM to quit on a player like that for whatever return he can get, knowing that you can bank on the guy with a sub-97 PDO going through the worst stretch of his promising career, having already hit rock bottom and due for a return to being well worth his cap hit? That’s basically due diligence for a GM to see if such a trade is possible.
The biggest question here is whether having a third of the league hawking on Sheahan like a gaggle of professional yard sale flippers is what helped convince Ken Holland that selling low isn’t worth the gamble. It’s hard to ignore that much buzz, but that’s a perfect take-it-or-leave-it kind of scenario for any GM calling, and for Holland. They would know you don’t have to offer good value for a guy with no goals and Ken Holland would know that you don’t have to take bad value for the same.
The worst case scenario here is that Sheahan is irreparably broken and that the first 204 games of his career tell us less than the last 59 games do. Holland holding onto that rather than getting even a small amount of value would be another failed gamble. I don’t think that’s likely though. Even with the need to rotate more kids into the lineup, Sheahan remains a useful cheap player with plenty more upside than he’s shown this season. Even if he only improves back to what he was prior to this year, he should still have more trade value next season or even this summer than he did two days ago.
And who knows, he might end up worth keeping around for longer than that.