DETROIT — Riley Sheahan, 22, will make his season debut, centering Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson.
“Riley’s a real good center-man, a two-way player and good defensively, hard on the puck and can score,” Gustav Nyquist said. “He also has a great shot so hopefully he brings that out tonight and helps us win.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock is hoping he gets from Sheahan what he’s gotten from the others that have matured in Grand Rapids, including Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.
“In exhibition he spent a lot of time thinking instead of just playing,” Babcock said. “We’ve talked to him, he’s played well in the American League, he’s been their best player there the last little bit and we expect him to come in and do what Jurco did and take over. When you look at the kids we’ve called up from the minors, where they didn’t start in the lineup, Tatar wasn’t in the lineup, Gus we called up, Jurco played great the other night. Everyone we’ve called up has played great so why wouldn’t he.”
Sheahan, who was selected in the first round (21st overall) in the 2010 draft out of Notre Dame, has six goals and eight assists in 23 games with the Griffins.
Sheahan, 22, has leapfrogged Cory Emmerton as far as call ups go.
“I think winning helps you, being elite at any level helps you,” Babcock said. “When you win the Calder Cup with a bunch of veteran players it’s one thing, but when you win it with kids like we did, I think that means we have good players. Are they going to be high-end players I don’t know the answer to that. We’re going to watch. We put Jurco the other day with Pav (Datsyuk) and we’re going to give Sheahan an opportunity and if he grabs it’ll he’ll get it and keep it.”
Sheahan has played in two games over his career with Detroit, one in each of the past two seasons and has no points.
“You know you wait for this time throughout the season and just try to play your best at the level you’re at,” Sheahan said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be winning some games and playing with some players in Grand Rapids so yeah I’m really looking forward to starting the game tonight.
“I know there are a lot of guys itching at their chance in Grand Rapids (to get up here),” Sheahan continued. “There are a lot of positions that can be filled easily so you just gotta make the most of it and play your best.”