Penguins Zapped by Bolts: Acquire Sheahan – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Zapped by Bolts: Acquire Sheahan

I confess…I arrived at The Pennsbury Pub and Grille a little late last night, so I didn’t view the first 35 minutes or so of the Penguins-Lightning game. After bellying up to the bar and glancing at one of the big screen TVs, maybe it was all for the best.

The second-period highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective) confirmed my worst fears. I grimaced as replays showed pucks sailing past our beleaguered goalie, Antti Niemi, from every conceivable angle.

Trying to lighten the mood, a buddy joked that we should’ve signed the real Niemi instead of the anti-Niemi. It didn’t help.

No need to dissect the gory details of our embarrassing 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay. The lopsided score speaks for itself. Let’s just say it was a miserable night for our guys and leave it at that.

As I watched the third period play out, I kept searching for a silver lining amid the pervading gloom. With about 15 minutes left, I spotted one. Crashing the net with his customary spirit and verve, Patric Hornqvist attempted to jam the puck past Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy while absorbing a liberal dose of whacks, hacks and crosschecks from defenseman Jake Dotchin.

A scrum ensued following the whistle involving Hornqvist and every available member of the Lightning squad, including ex-Pen Chris Kunitz. Evgeni Malkin half-heartedly joined the fray on behalf of the black and gold to make it two against six.

It spoke volumes about our battle-readiness, a genuine source of concern. Yes, Niemi stunk out the joint in perhaps his last start in a Penguins jersey. However, with the notable exception of Hornqvist, who was still breathing fire six goals down, the Pens offered about as much resistance as a soggy Kleenex.

Back-to-back games are tough. And I know we’ve had a brutal schedule thus far. The bottom line? There are a lot of really good hockey teams out there–Tampa Bay for one–each jonesing for a shot at the Cup. If the Pens can’t muster any more passion or purpose than they displayed last night, they’ll be scheduling early tee times for sure.

“I think right now we’re a flawed hockey team,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ve got to shore up a lot of areas. I don’t think it has anything to do with back-to-backs. I think it has to do with a mindset and willingness to play the game the right way.”

Penguins Get Sheahan

The wait for a third-line center is over. General Manager Jim Rutherford pulled the trigger on a much-anticipated deal yesterday, acquiring Riley Sheahan and a fifth-round pick in the 2018 Entry Draft from Detroit for left wing Scott Wilson and a third-round pick in the 2018 Entry Draft.

In Sheahan, the Pens get a prototype No. 3 center, albeit one who’s been in a prolonged funk. A first-round pick of the Red Wings in 2010, Sheahan played college hockey at Notre Dame, where he skated with Ian Cole and Bryan Rust. The 6’3” 226-pounder possesses good size and defensive instincts and, until last season, a bit of a scoring touch. However, after notching 27 goals over a two-year span, he managed just two last season and none thus far in 2017-18.

“You just look at his overall record and he’s done it more than one year,” Rutherford said. “He’s dropped off the one year, but there’s a good sample size there. He’s still a young guy (25), he should just be coming into his prime. He’s going to play with good players here. I know he’s a real good guy, a real good pro. He can strengthen our center-ice position.”

In the faceoff circle? Don’t expect another Matt Cullen. He’s decent but not dominant on draws.

Sheahan, who earns $2.075 million, can become a restricted free agent in July. Wilson, also in the final year of his contract, makes $625,000.

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  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    October 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    7 to 1… Tampa Bay !! Rick… Here we go again… Big,giants on defense that can skate well and move the puck.Have a few of their own SUPER STARS who can win key Hockey games and have a very deep talent pool in the minors. I think I said this the last time we played them. Keep doing the same thing,hoping for a different result is a sure way to get a wake up call come next April.
    These guys are only going to get better and better as their young rookies, ( especially their 2 d men who are all stars in waiting), gets used to the NHL game.
    I like the Riley Sheahan deal myself as it gives us a 3rd line center with size and we still have the ability to get a high draft pick for him next year if he does not resign with us as he is a RFA.Smart move. We did not have a lot of options.
    Lets not kid ourselves, this team needs some serious upgrades to lift the Cup next June…
    Starting with a back up goalie…Tristan Jarry anyone ?
    Hoping for better days !!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      While I can’t say I’m over the moon, I’m okay with the Sheahan deal, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. To my eye, we needed to get bigger and stronger up front, and Sheahan certainly fits the bill. He’s regarded as a decent defensive center who’s handled PK chores in the past. And he did produce some offense his first three seasons.

      If he doesn’t work out? We’re not tied to him beyond this season.

      I know there have been whispers about Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk, a higher-end offensive talent who’s experienced a drop off similar to Sheahan. But he’s making $4.9 mil on a three-year deal, and he’s not an especially good defensive player. If he doesn’t produce, you’re really stuck.

      I liked Wilson, especially his speed and grit, and thought he might develop into a poor man’s version of Chris Kunitz down the road. But, for whatever reasons, he just didn’t seem to seize his opportunities here.

      Switching tracks, perhaps this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction in the wake of another bad loss. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Pens cut ties with Niemi.

      In the short run, it’s possible Casey DeSmith could get the nod. There was an incident in college (of which he was later acquitted) that threw his career off the rails. But he’s put up some really strong numbers with the Baby Pens…better than Jarry…and was part of the tandem that won the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award last season.


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        October 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        The Penguins may have no choice but to give DeSmith a shot. They really don’t have many options opened to them,

        As for Wilson, I liked him too. I really think the Reaves trade killed Wilson. Rowney – Wilson – Archibald was a force last year down the stretch run. Unfortunately, in stupid knee-jerk reaction, JR weakened the team pretty good when he flipped a first round pick and a Center that the team itself probably ruined for a RW that the team really didn’t need and who really didn’t fit the system, and a 2nd round pick. (Not even a really high second round pick).

        Because of that bad trade and pride (it goeth before a fall) the team keeps trying to force the square peg Reaves into the round hole. And as I noted elsewhere, even though they got what they claim to be the toughest player in the league, statistics show they are a much softer team to play against with Reaves instead of Wilson in the lineup; a drop of 16% in hits with tough guy Reaves.

  2. The Other Rick's Gravatar The Other Rick
    October 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Good recap. That was a tough game to watch. yet another flat tire. I hope the Penguins have AAA to cover all of these blow outs!

    Sorry, but I had too much to say about the Sheahan trade so I made a full post. What is funny is I was just bemoaning the lack of talk about a trade these last couple of weaks and then all of sudden this! It goes to show, be careful of what you wish for.


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