With Riley Sheahan heading towards free agency on July 1st, the Florida Panthers shouldn’t even think twice about re-signing the centerman.
Since joining the Florida Panthers, Sheahan closed out the 2018-19 season with an underwhelming stat line of 2G, 8A, for 10 points in 33 games.
For the majority of his stay in South Florida, Sheahan was primarily used on the fourth line while occasionally playing on the third when an injury or two occurred.
His short stint with the Panthers, much like his start to the year with the Penguins, was disappointing in all aspects. Now, the Panthers have a decision they need to make on the 27-year-old center.
In all fairness and honesty, that decision should be quite simple to make. Considering the Panthers have the likes of Denis Malgin, Juho Lammikko, and Dryden Hunt all knocking on the door for a fourth-line spot, the Panthers can simply afford to move on from Sheahan.
Those aforementioned three are all capable of playing in Sheahan’s position, whether or not the center position is primary to their games.
In today’s NHL, anyways, forwards are versatile in terms of the different roles and positions they can play in, so having any of those three players step in and fill Sheahan’s shoes could definitely work.
Most importantly, though, it’s key to note that the above three are more skilled and are evidently the better hockey players than Sheahan currently is. While Sheahan may have more experience, his experience only brings him so far with his limited skillset.
A big issue the Panthers’ forward core faced last season was their bottom-six scoring. In this particular department, the Cats ranked fourth-worst in the league, with the top six carrying the overwhelming majority of the offense.
For a Panthers team that is looking to balance itself between all four lines, bringing Sheahan back wouldn’t provide much of a threat offensively from the bottom line.
As well, considering he’s hitting the open market on July 1st, Sheahan will unquestionably demand more money than what Malgin, Lammikko, and Hunt are all currently making.
Taking this into account, it would be a no brainer for the Panthers to select one of the three who are better and most importantly, cheaper. Those three options serve as better cost-efficient players that the team will get more bang for their buck with than they would with Sheahan.
I’m sure there are a few teams around the league that Sheahan would fit in nicely with on their bottom lines, but the Panthers just aren’t one of those teams and need to head into a different direction to improve their bottom six.
For multiple reasons outlined above, it would be silly for the Panthers to re-up Sheahan’s contract and have him take the place of someone more deserving and better in that fourth-line role.