Detroit — The Red Wings shuffled and traded some bodies around Saturday, but in the end, this was mostly about the Red Wings creating salary=cap space.
After agreeing Friday on a contract agreement with Andreas Athanasiou, the Red Wings gained the financial flexibility to do so by trading forward Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick to the Penguins for forward Scott Wilson and a 2018 third-round draft pick.
Sheahan was earning $2.075 million, and Wilson makes $625,000. Athanasiou agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.378 million.
“Riley Shehan is a good hockey player, a good person, and he’s going to get a great opportunity in Pittsburgh,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Scott Wilson is an NHL player who is going to get a good opportunity here in Detroit.
“But, in the end, we also created cap space to sign Andreas Athansiou.”
Holland said he’s been in contact with Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford since the summer about a potential trade, but wanted to hold off until Athanasiou was signed. That, obviously, took a while, which put any potential trade on the backburner.
A 2010 first-round draft pick, Sheahan appeared to be developing into a big, strong two-way center until taking a big step backward last season. Sheahan, 25, didn’t score a goal until the final day of the regular season -- he scored twice -- and finished with 13 points (11 assists) with a minus-29 plus-minus rating.
It hasn’t gotten any better this season, with Sheahan going without a point in eight games, and losing ice time at center with Henrik Zetterberg defying Father Time, Dylan Larkin playing well, and Frans Nielsen manning the third line.,
“He wasn’t getting the opportunity,” Holland said. “He’s going to get an opportunity in Pittsburgh.”
The Penguins are likely to slot Sheahan as their third-line center, getting to play with speedster Carl Hagelin (Michigan) on one wing.
Wilson, 25, had eight goals and eight assists in 78 games with the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins. In 20 playoff games, Wilson had three goals and three assists. A 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive center, Wilson was without a point in three games this season.
“He’s played well in this league, on a Stanley Cup winning team,” Holland said. “He fits well on our team.”
The Red Wings also made a minor-league trade Saturday, trading defenseman Ryan Sproul to the New York Rangers for forward Matt Puempel. Sproul, 24, played in 27 games with the Red Wings last season before suffering a knee injury that cut short his season.
Sproul didn’t make the roster out of training camp, was waived without being claimed, and has begun the season in Grand Rapids where he has one goal and three assists in five games.
Sinking on the depth chart, and needing to create lineup room for several young players in Grand Rapids, Sproul became expendable.
Puempel (6-1, 205 pounds) had six goals and three assists in 40 games with the Rangers and Ottawa last season. This season in Hartford (AHL), Puempel had a goal and two assists in five games.