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BLOG: Sheahan's past with Holland key in signing with Oilers

"It definitely was a big reason. He drafted me in Detroit. I learned a lot there and always had trust in Ken," said free agent signing Riley Sheahan of Ken Holland

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Riley Sheahan and Ken Holland go back.

All the way back to their Detroit Red Wings days when the current Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Holland drafted the former Notre Dame centre Sheahan in the first round, 21st overall, of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Sheahan developed under Detroit's system for seven seasons, winning the Calder Cup in 2012-13 then becoming a National Hockey League regular with the organization in '13-14. He played 292 games draped in red and white, all under Holland, scoring 38 goals and 98 points.

That history with the Oilers GM impacted Sheahan's decision to ink a one-year pact with Edmonton on Thursday.

"It definitely was a big reason," Sheahan told via phone. "He drafted me in Detroit. He ran things right there. I know he'll do that in Edmonton and he's already started that. 

"I learned a lot there and always had trust in Ken."

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Splitting last season between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, Sheahan accumulated nine goals and 19 points in 82 games. For the upcoming year, he's entering Oil Country with a sense of what his responsibilities will be. Mainly, to provide two-way support for the club.

"I think for me, it's just being able to provide a little bit of relief to Connor (McDavid), (Leon) Draisaitl and (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins," he said. "Maybe go out there and take some D zone draws and help out on the penalty kill. At the same time contribute on the scoresheet when things might not be going right for those guys in certain games."

Another area Sheahan is more than capable of helping the Oilers with is in the faceoff dot. The Oilers ranked 25th in the League last season with a 48.4 percentage in the circle. Over Sheahan's NHL career, he's averaged a 50.5 winning percentage.

"It's one area of my game that I take pride in," said the centre. "I'm always looking for new ways to approach faceoffs and learn new things from different players. Possession is a huge part of the game now. If you can win big draws and have the puck in your team's hands, it definitely helps."

While Sheahan isn't all too familiar with Edmonton, he will have the familiarity of working with Holland in another passionate hockey town.

"When you can win, have your fans rally behind you and create some momentum for the city, there's nothing like it."

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