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Insider Only Analysis: Penguins haven’t likely solved their bottom-6 center hole

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired center Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth round pick from the Detroit Red Wings in-exchange for winger Scott Wilson and a 2018 third round pick.

Sheahan, 25, carries a $2.075 million cap hit.

Sheahan has 0 points in eight games this season with just 5 shots on goal. He’s a big bodied center at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with good defensive instincts but struggles to create his own offense.

The 25 year old forward had 2 goals and 13 points in 80 games last season. He is a minus-29 over his last 88 regular season with just 2 goals during that span to show for. In his career Sheahan has 38 goals and 98 points in 292 games.

Pittsburgh had gone back and forth for months on whether to push forward on a deal for Sheahan and two sides revived talks yesterday with the Red Wings resigning Andreas Athansious.

The Red Wings had sought Tom Kuhnhackl initially in talks but Pittsburgh was not interested in making Kuhnhackl available in a deal for Sheahan, per sources.

Wilson, 25, had 8 goals and 26 points last season and was valuable in the postseason due to his versatility to play up and down the lineup. Wilson had high 5 v 5/60 production in 2016-2017 but had fallen out of the Penguins regular lineup this season with the coaches valuing Kuhnhackl’s penalty kill ability and management wanting Ryan Reaves in the lineup every night.

For Detroit, they do well in moving a 4th line center they’ve been trying to move for months due to cap reasons in getting a third rounder for Sheahan and adding a useful player in Wilson who has a $1.5 million lesser cap hit than Sheahan.

Wilson’s downfall in Pittsburgh is that he’s not a center and he also didn’t meet management’s expectations as the Penguins during the 15-16 season believed Wilson had 20+ goal ability and would be that type of winger by now.

What the Penguins essentially did was trade an 11th-13th caliber type forward in Wilson for another 11th-13th NHL caliber forward in Sheahan who unlike Wilson can play center.

Pittsburgh is now banking on that the change of scenery can get Sheahan back to the offensive level from 2014-2014 where he had a career-high 36 point season.

Why has there been such a decline in Sheahan’s offensive play?

The speed game throughout the league doesn’t fit his style of play for one.

The buzz among scouts on Sheahan is the NHL evolving into a more skill and speed game the last couple seasons has not seen Sheahan Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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