When the Capitals signed Conor Sheary just before Christmas in 2020, there wasn’t much guaranteed to the two-time Stanley Cup champion.
He’d just finished his second stint in Pittsburgh and was looking for a more permanent home after spending the first three years of his career with the Penguins, two years with the Sabres before ending with the Penguins once again.
And since that time, Sheary’s been just what the Capitals need.
In a season when injuries and coronavirus-absences have blasted the Capitals, he’s scored 10 goals and 19 points. That places him fourth on the team in goals behind Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson and fifth on the team in points.
Nine of his goals have come at even strength, aiding a Capitals lineup that’s needed consistency in the worst way this year.
Not only that, Sheary has the unique ability to slot in at any wing the Capitals need him to. He’s played top line minutes with Ovechkin and he’s moved up and down the lineup to fill in essentially wherever the Capitals need him. That includes the power play, where he’s seen extensive time this season.
And really no matter where the Capitals put him, the game is tilted in their favor when he’s on the ice.
At five-on-five with him on the ice, Sheary has a shot-attempt percentage of 51.67, a shots-for percentage of 52.13, an expected goals percentage of 54.07 and a high-danger chances percentage of 55.4. In short, the Capitals are better when he’s on the ice.
With just a $1.5 million cap hit, the Capitals have a player that gets into the tough areas and, despite his 5-foot-9 frame, is able to come away with loose pucks more often than not. And when goal-scoring is added onto that, the Capitals have themselves a mighty valuable player that doesn’t get near the limelight of some other stars on the team.