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NHL Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings: Patience With Top Prospect Riley Sheahan Paying Off

Riley Sheahan Red Wings

Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

When the Detroit Red Wings drafted Riley Sheahan in the first round of the 2010 draft, they like the size and scoring potential of the Notre Dame standout. They would watch as he went on to improve in each of the next two seasons at the collegiate level before he turned pro at the end of his junior season. Sheahan debuted with Detroit at the end of the 2011-12 season, and expectations were high for him as he headed to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL for the 2012-13 season. As a rookie on a veteran-laden team, he scored 16 goals and had 36 points in 72 games and was called up for one more game with Detroit. Off-ice issues threatened to de-rail his progress, but he weathered the storm created by a DUI arrest and continued to play well as the Griffins won their first-ever Calder Cup.

After his one game of NHL action last season, Sheahan was told he needed to be quicker and have more pace to his game if he wanted a longer shot with the Red Wings, and he’s certainly done his best to stick with the team this time around. He notched two assists in a Dec. 21 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, then scored his first career goal and added an assist in a Jan. 11 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He’s impressed coaches this time around, and is even getting time on the power play. He has four points in six games, and that kind of production should be envied by many of the veterans on the team. Once the players currently out injured start returning to health, there’s a very good chance Sheahan is headed back to Grand Rapids. He has eight goals and 18 points in 28 games there this season, and has certainly shown the Red Wings there’s good reason to re-sign him when his entry-level contract expires at the end of the season.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.