Welcome back to Vegas Hockey Now’s season in review series where we look at every player on the Vegas Golden Knights and their 2021-22 season from Michael Amadio to Zach Whitecloud.
You can catch up on the series here: Michael Amadio, Reilly Smith, Jonas Rondbjerg, Keegan Kolesar, Robin Lehner, Alex Pietrangelo, Nolan Patrick.
Today’s player is Shea Theodore.
It seems we have a debate on our hands. I asked the other day on Twitter who the Vegas Golden Knights fanbase thought was the team’s no. 1 defenseman. The answers were divided right down the middle between Alex Pietrangelo, and today’s player profile, Shea Theodore. Based on history Pietrangelo has logged more ice time in his career and has his name on the Stanley Cup already as a no. 1 D-man.
But based on 2021-22, Theodore may have passed Pietrangelo as the team’s top defenseman as he had an incredible career-high season. At 26 years old, Theodore is starting to emerge as one of the more underrated defensemen in the entire league alongside guys like Jaccob Slavin and Rasmus Andersson.
The Golden Knight’s blue line was ravished with injuries all throughout 2021-22 and Theodore missed a few games here and there due to COVID and bumps and bruises. Slowly as the season progressed, Theodore and the VGK welcomed back injured defensemen into the lineup such as Alec Martinez. This greatly improved the overall output for every single member of the team’s defense, especially Theodore.
Theodore put up 14 goals and 52 points this past season both career highs. What’s most impressive is his five game-winning goals which included three in overtime. These goals weren’t tap-in garbage goals either, as Theodore displayed his offensive instincts and stickhandling skills immensely.
It was a rough season overall for the Golden Knights, not making the playoffs and all. But for Theodore, it was a solid step in the right direction for the former first-round pick. The Golden Knights are lucky to have him locked up for another three years at under $5.5 million.
Let’s relive some of those overtime winners to start.
There were a lot of great goals scored this season by the Golden Knights. Evgenii Dadonov’s overtime winner just days after he was “traded,” and Jack Eichel’s buzzer-beater come to mind. But in terms of pure skill and attractiveness, I think this Theodore OT winner against the Habs is the goal of the year.
A native of Langley, British Columbia, Theodore grew up and played junior hockey in the northwestern region of North America. This must have given Shea some added motivation during the Golden Knight’s trip to Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Arizona where he put up seven points in eight games.
This stretch included five goals, yet another overtime winner, and a breakaway goal out of the penalty box against the Kraken.
The Golden Knights are cap-strapped entering the 2022 offseason with the team still needing room to breathe now with Jack Eichel’s contract. But one contract general manager Kelly McCrimmon doesn’t mind is Theodore’s $5.2 million cap hit that has three years left. At only 26 years of age, Theodore is still in his prime for the Golden Knights and has much more to show in the NHL.
The defense for the Golden Knights overall is locked up for the foreseeable future. Only Nicolas Hague remains unsigned for 2022-23. Brayden McNabb, Ben Hutton, and Zach Whitecloud all inked extensions midway through the season, and Martinez, Theodore, and Pietrangelo make up the defense core.
The personnel is not the concern for Theodore and the Golden Knight’s defense heading into next season. The concern is staying healthy and having enough cap space to pay everyone. If this can be managed, the Golden Knights will have one of the most elite defense corps in the entire NHL.