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DeBoer Faced With Variety Of Options When Theodore’s Ready To Return

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The injury bug has hit the Golden Knights a bit over the past week forcing them to dig deep down the depth chart on the blue line. It’s given Nick Holden and Dylan Coghlan a chance to get into the games, and it’s also sent Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague up the ladder playing as the second pair.

Eventually, hopefully soon, Shea Theodore will be able to return but Brayden McNabb is expected to be unavailable through the rest of the month of February. That leaves some question marks as to who will be in the lineup and how they’ll be deployed.

When Theodore is ready, Vegas will have seven available defensemen with games under their belts this season. Obviously, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Theodore will be in the lineup, and with the way Zach Whitecloud has been playing, he’s a lock as well. That leaves Coghlan, Holden, and Hague as options for the final two spots.

The decision could come down to a non-performance related issue for Nick Holden though. Since Holden cleared waivers earlier this year they may want to protect him against having to clear again. The rule states that once a player clears waivers he must play 10 games and be on the roster for more than 30 days before he’s once again eligible for waivers.

Holden currently sits at six games played and has been on the roster for 15 days (assuming they did not shuffle him back and forth on off days). Thus, if they stick with him in the lineup, he could once again be waiver eligible as soon as March 2nd.  That’s not ideal for Vegas as once McNabb is ready to return, Holden would once again be susceptible to waiver claim by any of the other 30 teams.

So, let’s say the Golden Knights opt to stick with Hague and Coghlan instead. That leaves the Golden Knights with three right-handed defensemen (Pietrangelo, Whitecloud, and Coghlan) and three left-handed D (Theodore, Martinez, Hague). However, Theodore has played most of the past two seasons on the right side, with Martinez since he was acquired from the Kings.

In Theodore’s absence, Martinez has played with Pietrangelo and it’s been the best Pietrangelo has looked. So the question becomes do you switch Theodore back to his natural side or do you play an all right-handed pair either atop the lineup or on the 3rd pair. Here are a few of those options.

Play Theodore on the left
Martinez-Pietrangelo
Theodore-Whitecloud
Hague-Coghlan

Leave Theodore on the right
Whitecloud-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Theodore
Hague-Coghlan

Load up with Theodore on the left
Theodore-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Whitecloud
Hague-Coghlan

Go for balance with Theodore on the right
Martinez-Pietrangelo
Hague-Theodore
Coghlan-Whitecloud

To me, both of the best options involve Theodore switching back to the left. He’s played plenty of games in a Golden Knights uniform on the left, most often paired with Deryk Engelland. But, since he’s taken his biggest leap offensively, and every game for DeBoer, Theodore has been on the right.

That brings us back to Nick Holden. If Vegas decides to use Holden, he is an option to play on either side. Thus, Theodore can stay on the right, but the top-pair left player becomes a concern.

Holden on the top pair
Holden-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Theodore
Hague-Whitecloud

Holden with Theodore
Martinez-Pietrangelo
Holden-Theodore
Hague-Whitecloud

Or, Vegas could do a combination of both, switching Theodore to the left and using Holden.

Load up with Theodore on the left
Theodore-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Whitecloud
Hague-Holden

Increase Whitecloud’s role
Martinez-Pietrangelo
Theodore-Whitecloud
Hague-Holden

There are a ton of options. Some require a bit of creativity but each has a chance to give the Golden Knights a slightly different look.

If it’s me, I’m sticking with Coghlan and pairing Theodore with Pietrangelo.

Load up with Theodore on the left
Theodore-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Whitecloud
Hague-Coghlan

However, that’s not the option I expect to see. Instead, I think the Golden Knights will more than likely play a few more games with Holden before making the waiver decision prior to the 10th game. Thus, I’d expect them to lean heavily on the reliable Holden.

Holden on the top pair
Holden-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Theodore
Hague-Whitecloud

No matter which DeBoer ends up going with, don’t expect it to be a permanent solution.

UPDATE: Morning skate showed this as the D-pair alignment in advance of tonight’s game.

Martinez-Pietrangelo
Holden-Theodore
Hague-Whitecloud

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17 Comments

  1. The Noodle King

    Too many capable D men. Nice problem to have !!

  2. I’m not sure what we will do when Theodore comes back but I do know that with the emergence of Hague and Coghlan Mcnabb is now expendable.

  3. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Not sure if I would write off McNabb just now. Still going to need capable experienced guys throughout the season.

    The Rockies will be much tuffer tonight I feel. We will need a very good effort to beat them two in a row!

  4. Da Mo

    It is amazing how solid the D pairings look, and the team in general, without having McNabb’s missed assignments, blown coverages, and poor skating in the lineup.

  5. sb

    Put Holden with Piet. The only difference between Holden and McNab is the spelling of their last names. Virtually the same player. Solid, not all-star material. Holden’s a better value at $1.7mil vs $3 mil. McNab has one more year on his contract. He’ll stay in the line up, but won’t likely get another contract. Martinez will likely be offered a one or two year contract at the end of this season. He works well with Theodore.

  6. Daryl

    I want to see him play alongside Whitecloud. That seems to me to be the future pairing. I’m also not sold on Petra as a great defensive blueliner and putting him with Martinez will help in that regard. Plus that is similar to his pairing before coming over to VGK

    • Pistol Pete

      Not sure what you think of career +/- but I’m pretty sure hockey statisticians and experts agree poor -/- stats are reflective of weak defensive play for D men (and forwards).

      Petro 768 games +77 (+.1003/game)
      Martinez 620 games +38 (+.0613/game)
      Duncan Keith 1155 games +153 (+.1325/game)

      You can see Petro’s +/- average is higher than Martinez but currently lags Keith who I think most would agree is one the very best defensive D men of the era. You indicated Petro needs Martinez to cover his defensive play but their respective career +/- does not necessarily support that.

      • Daryl

        It’s not that I think he isn’t a good defensive player but he’s also had the advantage of playing alongside a strong defensive player his entire career. And I based my comment off personal observations with VGK and with STL as well as hearing others from STL speak about him. His ice time is also paired with the top line, one of the best offensive lines in the league. I’m not knocking his +77 b/c no matter how you look at it, it is impressive…. but if you look at his seasons, he’s had 3 great seasons with above a +15 while most of his other seasons have all been just good seasons.

        Again, I’m not saying he is bad defensively but he benefits when playing alongside a more defensive blueliner. It allows him to jump up in the offensive zone more often and to even take more chances. I think playing alongside Parayko really helped Petra

        • Pistol Pete

          That makes sense I think we agree he’s a really good two way D. Check out Brett Burns -11 and Erik Karlsson -50…definitely offense at the expense of defense. Petro is a better blend and one of the best in his era and that’s why VGK made the investment. Now time will tell if he can keep going like someone like Duncan Keith (who actually had a poor +/- year three years ago). I would say he’s more than aware of advances in pro athlete longevity technology and is moving to exploit them. He loves his profession and wants to be elite for as long as possible.

  7. K

    Will Theodore play top PP?

  8. Tim

    Our blue line is playing well and as I’ve said before the kids are coming into there own. Hague and Coghlan both have wicked shots it’s just a matter of time and confidence that they start putting up some good numbers. Can you imagine Coghlan never drafted and now playing among men like Petro of coarse you’d be nervous. Management has done a great job slow cooking these guys. When you think about it were playing Koselar, Whitecloud, Hague, Coghlan, and Glass regularly and none have a year experience yet with the Knights. Now we let Krebs, Evelens, and Dugan play a year with the Silver Knights and they’ll be ready to come up.

    • Daryl

      Coghlan has impressed me with his offensive skills but I still get worried when he has the puck in the defensive zone. I saw the other day where he is over 6′ tall but he doesn’t quite play like it, at least not yet. Same goes with Hague. I like both in the offensive zone but not so much in the defensive zone.

  9. THE hockey GOD

    clowns to left of me
    jokers to the right

    stuck in the middle again

    PS stick on of those fast, hard shooting d men on wing, where some wingers are not performing….just sayin’

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