Conor Sheary was not a name you would have associated with Sidney Crosby before he was brought up last season and since then, he has been nothing but successful with Crosby. To some people, this is a shock because of Sheary’s size and his undrafted status. But, if you look at his numbers from college and in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, there is no doubt of his ability. Plus, when you look at the history, undrafted players haven’t hurt the Penguins, but have flourished.
The Hard Way
Conor Sheary didn’t find his way to Pittsburgh the normal way. He played four years at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and was consistent over his sophomore through senior year of play. Signing an ATO with the Baby Pens started his career in professional hockey and it just took off from there.
With one season and two play-off runs under John Hynes, he never saw any time with the Penguins his first year in the AHL. But once Mike Johnston was fired, Mike Sullivan brought up a few of his players from Wilkes-Barre who could help the faltering Penguins. He just happened to assist the team on their way to the Stanley Cup, and found he place as well.
Right beside Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh, in the last 10 years, has been creative with their lineup at times. Who knew that the Marian Hossa trade would work out so well for the Penguins, or that it would be the ‘additional throw in player’ that would be the game changer. Pascal Dupuis found himself in a similar place as Conor Sheary, an undrafted player who found his place with Sidney Crosby and another undrafted player Chris Kunitz.
Yes, we know how this turned out for everyone, but its a good example of how versatile undrafted players are. They have not been scouted since they were 16 or 17 to fall into a mold that the team hopes they fit. Undrafted players are never a sure thing, but looking at the history of success, Pittsburgh has the edge on that.
Sheary is not your typical NHL winger. He is small, 5’8” if you believe the official website, and about 175 pounds. He was looked over in the draft in 2010 and yet still made his way to the NHL. Most undrafted players don’t find themselves on the top line of a yearly contender next to one of the best players in the world. Unless you happen to play for the Penguins.
It’s All About Heart
Sheary’s size has not hurt him while in the NHL, as of March 19th, he has 20 goals and 27 assists for 47 points in 51 games. Of course people will say his stats are padded by Crosby, but he is assisting on both Crosby and Jake Guentzel’s goals this season and Bryan Rust’s before his injury.
Sheary’s ability to make plays and vision on the ice is over looked because of who his center is. Sheary has the vision to see some plays/spaces he can make/get through or only plays he knows Crosby can finish. Having stable linemates actually does help when a team is looking to repeat for a cup.
Conor Sheary may be small, but his heart is in the game. He might not have had the traditional route to the NHL, but now he’s etched into NHL history on the Stanley Cup.