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NHL Trade Rumors: Price right for Riley Sheahan in a Detroit to Pittsburgh trade?

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Looking at all the variables and Red Wings center Riley Sheahan could be the best known candidate yet for the Penguins to inquire about

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There’s some smoke (but no confirmed fire yet) about a new name in the trade rumors for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the form of the Red Wings Riley Sheahan.

Talk got kicked up as it so often does with a nugget from Elliotte Friedman yesterday:

We’ll do more stuff from the media tour in a little bit, but let’s look at some of the other current storylines. Sounds like Pittsburgh has re-ignited its search for another centre. Not sure about names. Have heard rumblings about Detroit’s Riley Sheahan, but not specific to the Penguins.

Friedman hedges a little at the end, but he’s hearing what we’ve all known for a while that the Pens want to trade for a center, and in Detroit they have a bit of a cap-crunch and may be fielding interest for Sheahan.

Jason Mackey from the PG sees it as a good fit for both sides too:

An intriguing and realistic possibility has emerged in the Penguins’ prolonged search for a third-line center: Riley Sheahan, currently with the Detroit Red Wings.

The struggling Wings, who are currently projected to be more than $3 million over the salary cap, have been receiving plenty of calls on Sheahan, multiple industry sources confirmed.

It’s believed the Penguins have been one of them, although it’s worth noting that they routinely do their due diligence on available players.

Consider that Sheahan will make just $2.075 million in 2017-18, which is well within the Penguins’ price range; they currently have $3.28 million in space according to CapFriendly.com.

Detroit is also looking for young defensemen, and the Penguins happen to have a former first-round pick who might benefit from a change of scenery in Derrick Pouliot.

Regardless of how the deal is consummated, the Penguins could stand to benefit from Sheahan’s historically bad 2016-17 season, the classic case of buying a stock at its lowest point.

Note that the $3.28 million of open cap space that Mackey cites (and to be fair, many others as well) already has 13 forwards on it, including Josh Archibald. For cap and roster purposes, the Pens almost never start the year with 14 forwards on the maximum of a 23 man roster, so adding any center will likely include some savings once a player like Archibald is waived. That’s also a sort of genius in the two-year, one-way contract that the Pens gave Archibald this summer, any NHL team that wants to add him is taking a 2 year and $1.3 million total payroll commitment to an unestablished NHL player, which has to enhance the odds he would clear waivers compared to being on a shorter contract. But, I digress.

The thought of including Derrick Pouliot in a trade makes sense, Pittsburgh clearly has 7 defenseman in front of him and he probably isn’t going to fetch a quality center. But Detroit’s in a cap crunch and Sheahan is a bit redundant with similar players like Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm. The Red Wings could use a young defenseman, but it remains to be seen if they would be interested in Pouliot when they have some similar young players like Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen in the mix as well.

Some more food for thought:

That graph makes the players look almost identical, and to be true Bonino scored 66 total points in his 2 regular seasons in Pittsburgh, Sheahan scored 61 in those two years. But it also omits Sheahan’s terrible 2016-17 and factors into the good Bonino’s 2015-16 where he only scored 9 goals and pre-HBK magic was having a dreadful year, long since forgotten and only remembered (understandably) for the terrific ending.

All in all, as Mackey says, if the Pens acquire Sheahan they’ll be buying low and hoping for a bounceback. Sheahan is young at 25, affordable on the salary cap and a big player at 6’3, 220. The biggest question remains what would Detroit be interested in getting back and just how much you liked Sheahan’s chances to bounceback.

Pittsburgh probably won’t be adding a glamorous name to be their 3rd line center (sorry Matt Duchene pipedream) but a situation like Detroit and Sheahan does make sense as a potential match for something. As we’ve done all summer it’s back to the waiting game.