Riley Sheahan is having, without a doubt, the worst season of his career and arguably the worst season of any of the Red Wings who have escaped getting sent to LTIR. As of last night’s game against Winnipeg, he’s been held to a measly 5 points in 27 games, all assists. He sits at the worst +/- on the team with -10, and his 5v5 CF% sits at 46.64%. Offensively, he is our worst forward, even being outscored by Steve Ott (who’s on pace for 7 goals this year). At 17% he’s in last place for team goals for when he’s on ice, and at 36% he’s tied with Nielsen and Tatar as the forwards with the highest team goals against. He’s doing alright at center in terms of faceoffs, his FO% at 52.5 for even strength, which is better than Nielsen, Larkin, slightly better than Zetterberg, tied with Glendening. Only Ott and Helm have higher FO% at even strength.
Shots on goal suggest that he’s trying. Over the past two seasons, he averaged 1.5ish shots a game, this season he’s averaging 1.4ish. But even the eye test is not beneficial for Sheahan, because he looks bad there as well. I don’t see him generating scoring chances out there. I don’t see him playing the body. I don’t see him being an effective shot blocker. I don’t see him doing anything, and neither does the rest of the internet because I couldn’t even find any highlights of him missing the net or hitting a post or killing a penalty. It’s like he’s been invisible all season.
But I don’t think it’s time to slam the door on him just yet.
For starters, we’ve seen him do better. Last season he had a lukewarm 25 points, but the season before he had 36. In Aug, The Hockey Writers listed him as a potential 20 goal scorer for the Red Wings. We’ve seen him score goals like this:
This is a 1st Round pick player people. I don’t think 27 games is enough for us to relegate him to the press box or Grand Rapids.
I know it’s hard to have faith when you watch someone go out and suck up 2 million in cap hit every night without scoring a single goal 1/3 of the way through the season. But the Red Wings haven’t exactly played well this season, even when they win the games feel like they could easily go the other way. Only 2 of the last 8 wins have been in regulation. We’ve had trouble generating offense when we get in the zone, and some nights we can’t even do that. When the team struggles, everyone struggles, and Riley Sheahan seems to be struggling enough on his own with needing help from the rest of the Red Wings.
I don’t think there’s anyway that this season doesn’t go down as one of Riley Sheahan’s worst. But I also think he’s still going to turn it around and show himself as a competent 3rd Line Center. Previous seasons suggest that this is just one of the worst slumps I’ve ever seen, and eventually he’s going to get the monkey off his back (or is it Teletubby in his case?). And with the injuries the Red Wings have, they’re going to need him too.
And hey, it’s not all bad.
Maybe this will be enough to force Ken Holland to protect Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou over Riley Sheahan.