Riley Sheahan should be left unprotected for NHL expansion draft

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NHL: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings
Feb 18, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan (15) skates with the puck chased by Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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It’s been a season to forget for Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan, to put it lightly.

The once-promising young forward has been a major disappointment this year. Through 67 games, he’s scored zero goals and is a minus-23. Not exactly the kind of player you need on your roster taking a spot from someone else. The NHL is expanding to 31 teams next year with the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights, and there will be an expansion draft.

Detroit should consider leaving Sheahan unprotected, meaning the new team could snatch him up. Could Sheahan’s luck change in Las Vegas?

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning
Dec 20, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan (15) during the third period at Amalie Arena.Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sheahan now currently owns the team record for most games without a goal by a forward. The previous owner of that dubious “honor” was Forbes Kennedy, who failed to score in 61 games during the 1958-59 season. Former gritty Red Wings forward Aaron Downey went 56 games without scoring in 2007-08, though he was never relied on for any offensive support.

That’s not the case with Sheahan. The Red Wings are already hurting for goals, as they are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. Sheahan was developing into a solid 15-20 goal scorer and put up 14 just a season ago.

But this year has been the opposite. Not only are the Red Wings poised to miss the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, but their leading goal-scorer (Tomas Tatar) has only 18 tallies on the year, and we’re in mid-March. Not good.

For the upcoming Expansion Draft, teams must expose at least two forwards and one defenseman that have played at least 40 games in the 2016-17 season. Although an expansion team likely wouldn’t find his staggering lack of offense attractive, the Golden Knights could look at how former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was was reportedly interested in him for his young Toronto Maple Leafs team. If one of the NHL’s top coaches had Sheahan on his radar, Vegas could consider taking a chance on him.

Regardless, Sheahan’s usefulness in Detroit has come to an end, and it’s time for both sides in the relationship to look at other options.

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