Connect with us

Washington Capitals

After Getting Lost In Mix After COVID, Sheary Has Found Home With Capitals



Washington Capitals Conor Sheary

ARLINGTON, V.A. — In the 2020 offseason, orward Conor Sheary found himself in a tough position. With a baby on the way, he was out of a job, an unrestricted free agent in need of a new team. No one was biting, though, and finally, roughly a week and a half before training camp, the Washington Capitals came knocking.

Fast forward three seasons, and he’s gone from a low-risk, bottom-6 signing to an integral piece of the puzzle. It hasn’t been an easy process for No. 73, but he embraced the challenge that has ultimately paid off.

“The way it came about was kind of tough because I didn’t have really any interest,” Sheary admitted. “They were one of the only teams that offered me a contract coming off that COVID year. So the fact that it’s kind of worked the way it has and I’ve been able to stick around — this is my third year now — it’s great.”

Through 53 games in the first year in D.C., Sheary posted 14 goals and eight assists and followed in 2021-22 with 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points in 71 games. He has continued that strong play so far and ranks second on the team in goals and has 13 points in 25 games so far this season.

“He’s just a consistent player every night for us. You know, with how hard he works, you can almost never say that Shears ever has a bad game,” T.J. Oshie said. “Maybe to his standards he does, but as far as we’re concerned, he works so hard that he creates so much even if he’s not putting points on the board. and then when he’s scoring goals, it just makes him that much more of an impact on the game.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko To Make KHL Debut

As Oshie mentioned, though, Sheary doesn’t just make an impact on the stat sheet. His play speaks volumes. He’s tenacious on pucks and versatile, able to slot in pretty much anywhere. Sheary started the year on the fourth line left wing, and amid more injuries, moved up to the top line right wing alongside Alex Ovechkin and both Dylan Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov. He handled the change with aplomb.

“They’re offensive guys, they can make great plays. Ovi can obviously score from everywhere. Kuzy can seemingly make a play out of nothing. You just want to give them the puck and create space for them as much as you can.”

In addition, Sheary’s been getting time on special teams and making the most of every opportunity, showcasing his speed and grit by battling for pucks and moving the play up ice while creating time and space for himself and his teammates.

“He’s been excellent. It’s hard not to like Conor Sheary,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He works hard every day, he competes every game, he’s good defensively, he’s scored big goals he’s changed positions… You know, he’s just a guy that’s really useful inside of your lineup. And it’s the way he plays the game and competes that I think draws everybody in.”

RELATED: Conor Sheary, Washington Capitals React To Loss To Seattle Kraken

That flexibility and ability to play multiple roles is something that’s been a big part of Sheary’s game for years. It not only helped him capture back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it also spoke to his character and helped him establish himself as a leader by example (though he stressed that he still has a lot to learn himself).

“I think it’s something I’ve kind of learned throughout my career, just a mindset thing. No where you are in the lineup… I think if I just approach every game the same way and bring the same attitude and same effort, I think it’s what kind of makes me successful personally. No matter where I am, as long as I can contribute and help the team, I think you just have to have attitude and that mindset.

“In terms of games played and experience, I’m still kind of middle of the pack on this team. We have such an older team that there’s lots of guys that I can still learn from and take a lot from,” Sheary added. “I’ll try to pass that along [to younger guys] when I have the opportunity.”

This is a contract year for Sheary in Washington, and he’s made it clear that he wants to remain with the Capitals. Taking that into account, he plans to continue working hard.

“Hopefully, I can continue to stick around longer. But the time I’ve spent here, I’ve really enjoyed it, Sheary said, adding, “It’s definitely once you get more comfortable in a system, once you get more trust in a system. A lot of it unfortunately, comes with injuries. You get more opportunity and you get to move up and down the lineup. But definitely, with more time here, you get more comfortable.”