Riley Sheahan is going to be a free agent after these playoffs. The question now is whether or not the Edmonton Oilers see Sheahan as a future piece of their bottom-six.
The 28-year-old signed a 1-year, $900,000 deal with the Oilers right before training camp, which will make him a UFA after the playoffs. The 2010 Detroit first-round pick spent the majority of the season playing bottom-six minutes alongside Jujhar Khaira and Josh Archibald, averaging 12:47 minutes per game. In 66 games with the Oilers, Sheahan collected 8 goals and 7 assists for 15 points.
Sheahan is yet another player on the Oilers that’s quite familiar with GM Ken Holland from their Detroit days. Holland was the one that drafted Sheahan to the Red Wings after all. If that familiarity and his performance this season is enough to earn him a new contract with the team is still up for debate though.
The St. Catharines’ native has played 513 games across his nine seasons in the league. Being brought onto an Oilers team under a cap crunch, Sheahan understood his role from the beginning; Focus on the defensive side of the ice, take face-offs and try to contribute on the scoresheet.
Sheahan was the Oilers go-to defensive zone face-off taker, winning 45.1% of his team-leading 455 face-offs. While being heavily relied on in the defensive zone, Sheahan took the least amount of offensive zone face-offs out of the Oilers who took at least 100. He did this while starting an astronomically low 32.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone, third lowest on the team. He also took the second most draws on the team with 834, winning 49% of his face-offs in all situations.
He also put up the worst Corsi and Fenwick For in All Situations stats of his career with 35.8% and 37.4% respectively.. A percentage above 50 means that the team was controlling the puck more often than not with a specific player on the ice.
Sheahan has never been a stand-out offensive producer, but this season he really struggled. His 31.5 GF% was the third lowest on the team, and he scored the majority of his points during a 15 game stretch that included a four-point night against the Arizona Coyotes. He also ranked 24th on the Oilers in PDO (Shooting % + Save %).
Sheahan’s bounced around a number of teams over the last few seasons. He’s gone from Detroit, to Pittsburgh, to Florida before finally ending up in Edmonton. In Edmonton, he’s found his role as a defensive face-off specialist.
The Oilers know they have elite top-end talent at forward, but have cycled through bottom six players fairly regularly over the past couple of seasons. Whether or not Sheahan will join Holland’s other signings like Gaetan Haas and Joakim Nygard will come down to price and term. While there are some prospects in the pipeline that could come in and potentially fill a bottom-six role, Holland might want to stick with a player he already knows well.