Former Penguins forward Conor Sheary focused his career with the Capitals

At one time, it might have been a strange sight.

Conor Sheary and Tom Wilson, arm in arm.

The two Washington Capitals forwards sat next to each other in the visitors’ locker room at PPG Paints Arena after Saturday’s morning skate and jokingly pretended to hang their arms over each other’s shoulders for a photo as a reporter hovered.

Sheary, listed as a presumed 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds, and Wilson, listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, represent opposite ends of the Capitals’ roster from a dimensional standpoint.

More than half a decade ago, that size discrepancy left Sheary, then a member of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, reeling after Wilson hit him in the knee in Game 3 of the second-round postseason series in the 2016 playoffs. .

Today, Sheary is grateful to be a member of the Capitals and a teammate of Wilson’s.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” Sheary said. “I will always be grateful for the opportunities I got here.”

Sheary, a key component of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2016 and 2017, was traded to the Buffalo Sabers during the 2018 season in a transaction primarily aimed at seeking salary cap relief. After parts of two miserable seasons with the hapless Sabres, he was traded to the Penguins in February 2020.

But a few weeks later, the pandemic shut down the NHL (to say nothing of basically every other walk of life), and Sheary’s second tenure in Pittsburgh ended that August, as the Penguins were ousted. bubble” playoffs — held in a quarantined area inside Toronto — during the qualifiers.

Without much momentum in his troubled career and with much uncertainty in the NHL’s economy due to covid-19, Sheary, then an unrestricted free agent, did not find a new gig until December 2020, just weeks before the start of the shortened 2020-21 season. In January 2021. The Capitals offered him a one-year contract for $735,000, a slight increase over the league minimum of $700,000 an hour.

“When I got traded to Buffalo, I wanted to leave (Pittsburgh),” Sheary said. “I went there (with a team that didn’t have much success and was out of the playoffs for two years). When I was there, it seemed difficult to generate traction. You get in your own head about certain things. I had the opportunity to come here. The coach, management and my teammates have given me great opportunities.”

Those prospects have shown up in steadier production after bouncing between Buffalo and Pittsburgh for a second time. In his three seasons with the Capitals, including the current campaign, he has at least 14 goals.

“He was looking for a back-and-forth spot,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “With his business-like approach and the work he put in in practice and his speed and competitiveness every day he came to the track, he’s a guy you like in your lineup. It really hasn’t disappointed all the time here.

“He has been impressive with his game, with his work ethic. He has helped this team succeed. He has helped (his) line be successful on the ice. He plays all positions in different lines. He has contributed in many different ways. He’s been on the power play, now he’s part of the penalty kill. “You’re talking about a guy who does a tremendous job for us and we’ve been very happy with the job he’s done.”

That satisfaction was evident during Sheary’s tenure in Washington, where he was given a two-year contract extension, a multi-year NHL contract that runs through April 2021.

Considering he began his professional life with an AHL contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the importance of a multi-year NHL deal won’t be lost on the 30-year-old Sheary, who awaits an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“I was uncapped,” said Sheary, a University of Massachusetts product. “I was kind from a smaller school. It was hard to notice much of my time there. To be able to get to an AHL deal and prove myself right away and get that NHL deal was something I dreamed of. I don’t think he ever dreamed of playing this long.

“Never take a day for yourself while you’re here.”

Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at or via Twitter .

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