The Penguins center depth spot is looking pretty good now. The team has re-signed Riley Sheahan for 2018-19. From their release:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed forward Riley Sheahan to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal carries an average annual value of $2.1 million.
Sheahan, 26, enjoyed one of his best regular seasons after arriving to Pittsburgh on Oct. 21, 2017 in a deal that sent Scott Wilson to the Detroit Red Wings. In 73 games with the Penguins, Sheahan produced 11 goals, 21 assists and 32 points. His assist and point totals were the second-highest of his career. Sheahan also played in eight games with the Wings before the trade.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Sheahan played his best hockey of the season beginning in January, which coincided with the Penguins’ best stretch. Between January 2 and the end of the regular season, Sheahan tallied eight goals, 13 assists and 21 points in 42 games.
Sheahan, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario, was a strong two-way presence for the Penguins, leading the club in faceoff winning percentage (54.4%) and ranking first on the team in shorthanded minutes per game (2:41). His 46 blocked shots ranked third among team forwards.
This deal is partially possible due to the trade earlier in the day that included Matt Hunwick and his $2.25 million cap hit to be sent to the Buffalo Sabres with Conor Sheary.
Sheahan made $2.075 million last season, so he’s accepted basically the same money. He’s reaching the magic age of 27 when NHL players reach unrestricted free agency, so next season he will be hitting the open market. He could have done that this season, as Pittsburgh did not give Sheahan a qualifying offer, due to being unwilling to see what an arbiter might award him. But, Sheahan was obviously willing to come back to the team where he had a good season and try it again.
Going for a one year deal at a team with a lower line player like Sheahan is a great idea. Let’s hope the team continues this mentality all off-season (cough cough rumored Jack Johnson five-year deal cough).
After this signing Pittsburgh has approximately $7.4 million in salary cap space for next season with 12 forwards, 5 defnesemen and 2 goalies signed. The team still has defenseman Jamie Oleksiak as a restricted free agent that they expect to sign later in the summer.
A current expect lineup could be as follows, though obviously coach Mike Sullivan is one to shuffle lines a lot:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Bryan Rust - Derick Brassard - Daniel Sprong
Dominik Simon - Sheahan - Zach Aston-Reese
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
??????????????? / Justin Schultz
Olli Maatta / Oleksiak or Chad Ruhwedel