Will the 3rd line center position be found via trade or will it be found “in house”? That is the question surrounding the team. If the Penguins have anything to do with it then they’ll make a trade before the deadline. But questions have been raised about whether other teams are trying to not do deals with the Pens.
Elliotte Friedman said recently in his 31 thoughts that one GM told him “I hope no one helps the Pens with a trade”. We shall see if Jim Rutherford can find a trade partner eventually which is more likely then not. But if other general managers want to shut off the Pens entirely and a trade can’t happen then maybe they already have the solution.
Riley Sheahan has played 35 games for the Penguins thus far. He has been stationed in that ever famous 3rd line center position for the team. The 3rd line center position has been the focus of attention ever since Nick Bonino left the team via free agency in the offseason.
Bonino was a great 3rd line center and role player for this team. He brought scoring ability and a great penalty killer. But he signed with the Nashville Predators over the offseason.
Now in comes Riley Sheahan early in the season. Another reclamation project for the Pens to fix. He only had 13 points in 80 games last season. So far with the Pens, he has 14 points in 35 games played.
So why do I bring this up you might ask. When comparing him to Bonino during their playing time in Pittsburgh, it doesn’t have many differences. Sheahan is on track to have one of his best seasons in his career with around 30 points. Over 2 seasons with the Pens, Bonino averaged 33 points per season.
When it comes to the face off circle, Sheahan gains the edge in that department. Bonino has only averaged a career 48.1% face off win percentage. Where as Sheahan has a career 49.9%. But he is having his best year in the circle with the Pens having a 56.46%.
Bonino is getting paid $4 million per year over the next 4 years, which is very pricey especially for a cap strapped Penguins team. But Sheahan makes $2.08 million and is a RFA (restricted free agent) this off-season.
When it comes to who has the best deal with how they’re playing this season…it’s obvious. When comparing their stats thus far Sheahan is the best bang for their buck. Bonino has only 8 points in 31 games. He is a -8 in the plus/minus department.
Sheahan has almost double the points of Bonino with 14. Those 14 points have come in 35 games and is a -1 in the plus/minus department.
When it comes to the 3rd line center, the Pens will want to address it via trade. But if general managers decide to not do deals with the Pens then the Pens will need to stand pat. I think the Pens will eventually be able to swing a deal but who knows when. Until then Sheahan is the 3rd line center and will be able to help this team win during that time.