For the Golden Knights there’s a constant delicate balance between trying to do what you can to win now while still keeping an eye on the future to fulfill The Creator’s dreams of “Playoffs by three, Cup by six.”
Sometimes, however, there are situations that serve both purposes simultaneously. That’s the case for Shea Theodore, who has now been with the team for six games, yet only played in three of them.
Theodore is widely considered the Golden Knights most talented defenseman, but that’s not to say he’s a finished product in the NHL. His ability to get shots through from the point, his skating, and his puck moving are all massive upside traits for the 22-year-old, but he does have some trouble deep in his own end, he’s not quite physical enough at times, and he tends to make risky plays that lead to odd-man rushes.
This being said, Theodore is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces moving forward for the Golden Knights. Yet, he’s only dressed for three of the six games since being recalled to the Golden Knights, has played just 45 total minutes in the three games, and saw his power play time (where he’s at his best) disappear in his most recent appearance.
This is an expansion team, one that’s been outperforming expectations to this point, but nonetheless an expansion team. The goal is to put the players who are going to have the biggest impact long-term in the best position possible. That’s not what is being done with Theodore. If the Golden Knights are going to take the step they expect to over the course of the next three to six years, Theodore is going to be a crucial piece. He needs to develop into the top line defenseman he’s supposed to be as soon as possible, or the organization must realize he’s not that guy and alter the plans.
Sitting on the bench watching the likes of Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, and Brayden McNabb does not serve this purpose, even if those guys clearly give the Golden Knights a better chance to win on that given night.
There’s no doubt, it’s great looking at the standings and seeing the Golden Knights securely in a playoff spot 15 games in, but eyes must remain on the future when they can, and with Theodore, he certainly hasn’t been bad enough on the ice that it’s worth stunting his growth for a marginal upgrade right now… especially when you consider Vegas is 0-3-0 with him as a healthy scratch.