Top pick Sheahan could be big help for Wings

Dana Wakiji
FOX Sports Detroit

Detroit — The Red Wings have been known for their skill over the years but not so much for their size.

Riley Sheahan would like to help change that.

The Wings took Sheahan with their first-round pick (21st overall) in last month’s NHL Entry Draft. Sheahan is 6-2, 200 pounds, and is just 18 years old. He turns 19 in December. He was the youngest player in the CCHA last season when he was a freshman at Notre Dame.

Thursday morning Sheahan and some of the other Wings’ picks from 2010 and earlier drafts skated at Joe Louis Arena during the team’s annual development camp.

Although he donned the famous winged wheel at the draft in Los Angeles, this was the first time Sheahan had practiced while wearing it.

“It was unbelievable,” a grinning Sheahan said. “It’s a great experience. It’s definitely a higher pace of hockey and it was a lot of fun. To put the Wings gear on for the first time was definitely very exciting.”

However, it was not the first time that Sheahan had been a Red Wing.

“The first team I ever played for was the Red Wings,” Sheahan said. “I wore the red and white as a little kid, so it was definitely an unbelievable feeling and it’s kind of ironic how it was the first team I played for.”

Sheahan wore the blue and gold of Notre Dame last season.

In 37 games with the Fighting Irish, Sheahan had six goals and 11 assists. Notre Dame hockey is known for concentrating more on defense but Sheahan is looking to build on his totals.

“I really, really want to work on my offensive ability, just when I get a chance to bury the puck, to put it in the back of the net,” Sheahan said. “I think there’s a few adjustments skating-wise from a stopping position and getting up to my full speed in the first few strides. Just my scoring ability, a little bit of balance in skating and I think I’ll be ready to go.”

Sheahan said he is also making amends for his April arrest for public intoxication and minor alcohol consumption in Indiana.

“It’s all cleared up. I just have a few more community service hours I have to do,” Sheahan said. “I just have to stay out of trouble for a year so it shouldn’t be a problem.

“It was definitely embarrassing. It’s not the kind of kid I am and not how I was brought up in my childhood and stuff. It’s just a few bad decisions.”

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Curt Fraser is among those leading the camp and he already likes what he sees from Sheahan.

“He looked terrific out here,” Fraser said. “Big, strong, can skate, great shot. He’s got a lot of good tools.”

Like all Wings prospects, Sheahan will be given plenty of time to develop. During the camp, he’ll learn the Red Wings way of doing things and what he needs to work on to reach the NHL level.

“I’m obviously going to work really hard to get to the next level,” Sheahan said. “I want to play for the Wings. That’s my dream, to play in the NHL, so I’m going to be working every day. Hopefully I’ll be here in two years, work my way up from the AHL and from college.”

While Sheahan has a lot of work to do, as the old saying goes, you can’t coach size and Sheahan already has it, with the potential to grow even more.

“I take pride in my size and I like to use it to my abilities,” Sheahan said. “I definitely think it’ll help me and hopefully help the organization in a few years.”