Conor Sheary Having Breakout Season

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18: Conor Sheary #43 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates the puck against Shea Weber #6 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on January 18, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both having MVP caliber seasons and are in the top three for the scoring race but lost in that talk is the play of left winger Conor Sheary this season. Sheary was one of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton callups last season that helped the Penguins win their fourth Stanley Cup and this season he is playing significantly better than he was last season, which is saying something. Sheary has 17 goals and 34 points and is on pace for a 30-goal season. That would likely be one of the most underrated 30-goal seasons by a player in quite some time. Here is a look at why Sheary is having such a great season and why he’ll likely get a very nice contract extension after the season.

Playing with Crosby: Going into this season many people had questions as to who the left wing for Sidney Crosby was going to be since he rotated through some last season. Conor Sheary was the most successful with Crosby last season and it’s carried over to this season in a big way. They work wonderfully together as they’re able to get a lot of time in the offensive zone which results in high quality scoring chances. It’s hard for teams to play with that line because of how fast both Crosby and Sheary are.

During Pittsburgh’s 7-1 rout of Carolina, the Penguins kept coming at the Hurricanes in waves and it resulted in two very nice Conor Sheary goals.

The first goal from Sheary came when Justin Schultz threw the puck to the net and Sheary was able to pounce on the loose puck and go five-hole on Cam Ward. The second goal that Sheary scored, which made it 7-1, definitely illustrated how well both he and Crosby work together. Crosby had a beautiful no look pass right to Sheary and he buried it into the empty net. No other center in the league can feed him that puck and as long as they stay together on the top line, Sheary will continue to have a successful season.

He is just plain good: Even when Sheary is not playing with Sidney Crosby he’s able to have a lot of success. He averages more then three points per 60 minutes, even without playing with Crosby on even strength. Sheary also plays on the second power play with Justin Schultz quarterbacking it and while he only has two power play points this season, he’s still able to carry the puck into the offensive zone and set up the man advantage so the Penguins can get some pucks to the net.

Here’s a goal from Sheary against the Rangers during the past playoff run where he steals the puck and blows past everyone for a goal:

The way that he’s able to pick his spot and snipe it past Henrik Lundqvist is something you just don’t see everyday.

For years, the Penguins never had these kind of players in the Crosby/Malkin era as they would just sign guys who possessed a lot of grit and toughness. The new regime led by Jim Rutherford changed that approach and went for speed and skill and it not only paid huge dividends last year, but this year as well. There is no doubt Conor Sheary will be looking for a raise during the off-season as he is having a wonderful year, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has an issue with him getting that well-deserved pay raise.

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