It hasn’t been a vintage year for the Vegas Golden Knights blueline, although one defenseman has proved to be the saving grace.
Although the Vegas Golden Knights have been hindered by a less than stellar defense this season, they have been getting sizable contributions from Shea Theodore.
Ever since they traded for him at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft from the Anaheim Ducks, the Golden Knights have held high hopes for Theodore.
In-fact, there has always been a belief that the 24-year-old could develop and mature into a franchise defenseman, although the Ducks will hope that’s not the case for their sake.
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However, through 188 career regular season games for the Golden Knights, Theodore has taken the appropriate steps to be considered in the conversation when discussing the best young blueliners in the NHL.
He’s certainly in that bracket and he’s sliding into the upper echelons following what has been a stellar year so far.
Despite carrying the majority of the load on his shoulders, Theodore is on pace for a career year and he’s doing it in style.
Through 48 games, Theodore has recorded 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) with a plus/minus rating of +3 and 10 points on the power play.
He’s on pace for career-highs in goals (12), assists (25) and points (37) while he’s already recorded the most power play points he’s ever had in his career.
And the underlying stats are just as impressive too.
For starters, Theodore boasts an impressive 57.0 CF% along with an oZS% of 59.1, while he has an expected +/- of 10.9, which ranks seventh in the NHL.
Theodore also has a Point Shares of 4.6 and he’s doing a good job in his own zone too, blocking 51 shots, laying on 16 hits and helping himself to 38 Takeaways.
It is Theodore’s reliability and durability that has impressed, too. After missing some of Training Camp following his recovery from cancer in the summer, the defenseman hasn’t missed a game yet this year.
And you can tell that he has become the most trusted blueliner on this team just by looking at his ice time. Through 48 games Theodore is averaging 21:45 minutes of total ice time, but in the last three games alone the defenseman hasn’t dipped below 25 minutes per game.
You’ve got to go by the eye test too and Theodore ticks all the boxes in that aspect as well. He’s a strong skater with a big body who can read the play well and make high-end plays in both zones.
He quarterbacks the power play to perfection and you can see that he is growing in both confidence and stature by the day.
Take his play on the man advantage as a perfect example of that. He’s already carved out a new career-high in points on the power play with 10, and we’ve still got half the regular season to go.
This is only good news for Vegas given that Theodore is nowhere near his peak years yet, and there’s still some potential to be unlocked.
The only negative surrounding Theodore this year is the fact that he hasn’t had more help from his D-partners, with Nate Schmidt in particular enduring a down year.
However, if the Golden Knights are successful in acquiring a puck-moving defenseman prior to the Trade Deadline, then that should help to ease the pressure on Theodore and that would only be beneficial for all concerned.
Overall, the Vegas Golden Knights should be thrilled with the progress made by Shea Theodore this year and he has all the intangibles to ensure that he leads this blueline for the foreseeable future and takes the next steps to become a premier defenseman in the National Hockey League.