5:15pm: The deal is official now, as the Oilers have announced a one-year contract with Sheahan per the initially reported terms. Sheahan stated that Holland was “definitely a big reason” why he signed in Edmonton, adding that he’s always “had trust in Ken.”
1:00pm: The Edmonton Oilers have been looking for some more depth down the middle, and it appears GM Ken Holland has found it in an old friend. According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet the team is close to a one-year deal with free agent Riley Sheahan who played for years under Holland with the Detroit Red Wings. The contract will be for $900K, giving the team quite the bargain if Sheahan can actually take over as the third-line center.
That third-line pivot role is something that Sheahan has held in the past, but it’s not clear if he can really be a difference maker there anymore. The 27-year old recorded just 19 points last season in 82 games split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, which simply isn’t enough for the Oilers if they plan on getting back to the playoffs this season. While Connor McDavid and either Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can create an elite pair of centers on the top two lines, the team desperately needs some more consistent secondary scoring from the third line.
Perhaps the hope is that Holland can bring the best out of Sheahan once again. He experienced his best offensive campaign in 2014-15 when he recorded 36 points for the Red Wings, but was a frustratingly inefficient shooter near the end of his career in Detroit. In fact, Sheahan famously went 79 games without scoring a single goal during the 2016-17 season before lighting the lamp in his last game of the year, giving him an eye-popping 1.8% shooting percentage. While something like that isn’t expected to happen again, he’ll need to do more than just play good defense to really make an impact for the Oilers next season.
After moving out Milan Lucic and buying out Andrej Sekera, the Oilers have a little wiggle room to operate this summer but still haven’t made any drastic overhauls to the roster. The team will have to hope a new coach and management team can make enough of these fringe moves to get them back to the postseason, or more substantial transactions may have to be made.