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Red Wings Trade Rumors: Riley Sheahan could be on his way to Pittsburgh

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NHL: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It sounds like the Red Wings may have found a way to get themselves enough cap space to sign Andreas Athanasiou in the eleventh hour. Multiple sources are confirming rumors that the team has a deal in place that would send forward Riley Sheahan to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Elliotte Friedman is among notable sources that has poked at the Red Wings trade rumor coals in his latest 31 Thoughts column.

Friedman believes the Penguins and Wings could agree on swapping Sheahan and defenseman Derrick Pouliot in the trade. Our sister site, Pensburgh, says there’s a lot floating around the Pittsburgh beat that backs this trade possibility up. The trade would essentially free up about $1.275 million in cap space for the Red Wings. The consensus among most fans would be a positive one, as Riley Sheahan is coming off a historically bad season where he scored two goals — all coming in the final game of the season.

As for Pouliot, he’s a 23-year-old rearguard - and a former top-10 pick for the Penguins. His ceiling has always been high, but it seems as if he’s never lived up to expectations given to him. Here’s what Pensburgh had to say...

Pouliot struggled through a disappointing training camp in Fall of 2015 where even he admitted, “I thought maybe I squandered a little bit of an opportunity” upon being sent back down to the minors during camp. … Later that month, he would be cited for public drunkenness after an incident in a taxi cab during a Halloween party. (Hey, we’re all 21 once). Up in Pittsburgh, Johnston got fired and Pouliot’s AHL coach Mike Sullivan was promoted to Pittsburgh. Pouliot’s up-and-down season continued with several NHL stints but an inability to gain traction in the top league. He ended up playing 22 NHL games in 2015-16 compared to 37 in the AHL. He did appear in 2 playoff games in the Pens run to a Stanley Cup, but as an injury replacement and one clearly outside of the team’s top-6 defensemen.

The Red Wings could be getting an enigma in Derrick Pouliot. He’s a player who has been criticized for being out of shape at times, including the crucial 2015 training camp that seemed to mark a turning point for how he was viewed within the organization. He seems like a guy who isn’t always the most attentive to detail. Due to the frequent swings in NHL to AHL to NHL time, he’s now an older prospect that probably wasn’t handled as cleanly as he should have been. However, this is also the perfect “change of scenery” candidate. Maybe a light goes off within him now that he’s in a new organization, getting a fresh start. Physically he has a lot of tools, skills, attributes that could make him a successful NHL player. It could be argued that he’s a much better player than his perception and his history, he just needs a true opportunity to get the playing time. This trade should be a “now or never” type moment, and with his abilities, he very well could blossom into a decent player.

While reports of Pouliot aren’t exactly exciting, I think the most valuable piece of the trade is clearing cap space. Pouliot basically adds to the already log-jammy logjam that is the Red Wings defense. I think Pouliot ends up being the same sort of situation as Dylan McIlrath — a castaway depth player. The good news is that Pouliot is a much more gifted player than McIlrath, and could pan out to be a useful player in the NHL right now, or at some point.

I think best case scenario for the Wings if they land Pouliot would be to shelter him in the NHL, and hopefully flip him for a future asset like a draft pick.

The trophy of this could-be trade, as I said before, would be cap space. The cleared cap space would put the Red Wings right in range of the reported $1.9 million they are offering Andreas Athanasiou. Reports are indicating that Athanasiou’s camp is asking for around $2.5 million per year, but the Red Wings are firm and set on the figure they’ve offered.

At this point, if Athanasiou were serious about going to the KHL for more money, he would have already made the move. I firmly believe that this trade would happen, and Athanasiou would be signed immediately afterwards. At this point, everything appears to be nothing more than speculation and rumor, but the volume at which they are surfacing in is something we don’t see very often. It seems as if a deal is imminent.