During the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft in 2017, they selected several important players that are still currently with the team. In Shea Theodore’s case, however, the Anaheim Duck’s traded him to the Golden Knights to prevent them from selecting a nonprotected player the Ducks didn’t want to lose.
Those unprotected players being defensemen, Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson. In exchange for selecting Clayton Stoner, the Anaheim Ducks gave the Golden Knights Theodore. Anaheim at the time saw this trade as an opportunity to keep their core together while also creating cap space by parting with Stoner’s contract.
In hindsight, it’s unlikely the Ducks would have ever considered this deal if they had known the type of player Theodore would develop into. The players they kept in exchange for Theodore have not worked out since the trade. Sami Vatanen is no longer with the team and Josh Manson has dealt with injury for the past couple of seasons.
During his two seasons with the Ducks, Theodore split time between the NHL and AHL, performing well at both levels. After being traded to the Golden Knights in 2017, he played eight games in the AHL and scored 11 points during that time. After his short AHL stint, he moved up to the Golden Knights where in 61 games he tallied 29 points. When the Golden Knights then made their historic playoff run, Theodore really started to show what he was capable of. He scored the first playoff goal in Golden Knights history and impressed throughout the postseason with 10 points in 20 games.
For the next three seasons, Theodore truly began to display just how talented of a player he is. He is a mainstay in Vegas’ top 4 D men and is crucial for the team’s success. Every season since his arrival in Vegas, he has shown signs of his game getting even better. For the last three season’s he has led all Golden Knights defensemen in scoring during the regular season.
In his four years in Vegas so far, he has tallied 153 points in 264 regular-season games. And during the playoff games, he has recorded 47 points in 66 games with the Knights. This makes him the franchise leader in points for defensemen in both the regular season and playoffs.
What makes him so special?
Shea Theodore is a player that is simultaneously a goalscoring and playmaking threat. He is a very strong skater and is highly proficient at puck-handling. Because of this, he has developed into one of the most effective blueliners in the league.
He is a player that benefits greatly from the system of the team he plays on. Vegas has always been a team with a strong counterattack and plays effectively while in transition.
How he plays while in possession of the puck in the defensive and neutral zone is comparable to a quarterback. During a rush or while in transition, Theodore is usually the initiator of any offensive play. His high hockey IQ also grants him the ability to consistently anticipate developing plays and send passes to where he expects his teammates to be. He is also capable of entering the offensive zone himself if he sees a lane to do so. He has very good puck handling abilities and utilizes them to drive towards the net and create space.
Theodore’s passing abilities have been the bane of several defenders throughout the league. His bread and butter has always been his breakout passes that initiate attacking plays. His stretch passes especially have given many opposing players cause for concern with how effective he is at utilizing them.
Still room to improve
A problem Theodore has recently run into is turnovers, especially during the 2020-2021 campaign. During the regular season, he had 35 giveaways and 25 takeaways. During the playoffs, he had 26 giveaways and 16 takeaways.
Theodore plays a high-risk/high-reward style of play. So a turnover every now and again isn’t the end of the world. However, it is not ideal when the other team is able to capitalize off of an error and is able to create a scoring chance out of it. Chances of this occurring only go up if players continue to have high numbers of turnovers.
Theodore is already a highly skilled player who is an offensive threat to any team in the league. If he can work on trying to reduce his number of turnovers, he becomes all the more dangerous for it.
Shea Theodore is arguably one of the most important players for the Golden Knights. He is capable of controlling the pace of play and has the ability to take advantage of the smallest cracks in another team’s defense.
With a bargain of a contract at $5.2 million until 2025, Theodore has been and is likely to continue being a valuable asset to the Vegas Golden Knights for quite some time.
Featured image courtesy of SportsNet
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