NHL 2010 Top Draft Prospects: Riley Sheahan

Riley Sheahan is another one of those anomalies. He is an extremely talented Canadian player who decided to attend US College as opposed to play Canadian Major Junior. Often, scouts must question why a kid wants to do this, which often affects his draft ranking. However, Sheahan doesn’t quite care what number is beside his name.

“It’s pretty cool that I’m getting that attention, and an honor, but at the same time it’s only a midterm ranking and there’s still a lot of work to be done so you can’t get caught up in it,” Sheahan said in an NHL.com interview. “You have to sort build off that knowing the opportunities are there.”

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Freshman at Notre Dame is playing pretty well, putting up 17 points in his rookie season. However, many see something beyond stats.

“He’s so mature for a kid his age — I’m overwhelmed with that,” one scout said to NHL.com. “The last time I watched him play I wrote a book on him. He’s equally good in all three zones and goes to the front of the net. He’s very conscious in the defensive zone and down behind the net in the defensive corner — he makes certain his team isn’t outnumbered. In the neutral zone he makes all kinds of things happen but will get back and turn a transition if needed.”

His coach, for one, was one of the people who doubted Sheahan at first.

“He surprised me with his ability to step in and contribute immediately,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said in an interview with the NHL. “He’s been able to play in every situation since he started and that’s kind of a rare thing for a guy like that. He came in here as a 17-year-old, and for him to be able to step into a game against 20- to 24-year-old players tells a lot about his patience and poise with the puck, and his accountability without it.

“He’s got the instincts of Doug Weight, and from a defensive perspective he’s got a defensive stick similar to Bates,” Jackson continued. “He knows when he can dangle and knows when he has to protect the puck. We’ve had issues with turnovers on our team this season, but Riley hasn’t been one of the culprits. He’s pretty smart and makes good decisions with the puck. He hasn’t disappointed in any aspect of the game.”

The 22nd-ranked player according to Central Scouting is a center who will most likely turn into a good depth center for any NHL team, possibly a second-liner. He is big, skates well, and his hockey sense is up there with the best of them.

Sheahan credits Jackson with the furthering of his hockey skills and his maturity level.

“He’s taught me hockey skills and life skills,” Sheahan said of his coach. “He’s talked about being more responsible in organizing my time. He’s definitely been a lot of help, and hockey-wise knows a ton about the game, so he’s just given me the opportunity to improve each day. I’ll be able to use a lot of what he’s showing me later on in life.”

Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.

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