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.
While I think it is important that he plays I don’t see why Hunt always gets the short end of the stick. Quick puck moving defenceman have become the must haves on defence especially with the crackdown on interference. Plodding D like Engellend and McNabb have far less value. If GMGM can get anything for them it’s a bonus. The market told him this with Reinhart already.
Top 4 d should be Schmidt/Theo and then Miller/Hunt.
I’m 100% in agreeance with you. Here’s my preferred pairings
McNabb (or Engelland)-Theodore
The reason I singled out Brad is because I think he’s the reason Gallant has been scratching Shea. Theodore is essentially a more talented Hunt. I’ve been down on the Engelland/McNabb pairing for a little while now.
Thanks for clarifying. Hunt has been dismissed for years simply because of his style. The new NHL is built for him. Time for someone to notice. This happened to Martin St Louis for a few years until he got a legitimate shot.
Loved the article. Cheers.
Steven J Smith
I thought the Engelland/Theodore showing against Toronto would get them the start against Montreal. I really liked their work together. Also consider Hunt and McNabb might be playing so the scouts can see them. Hunt is very good offensively, but his mistakes defensively are hurting the Knights. Hunt is a guy I’d be looking to move.
I’d like to see more balanced pairing on the blue line as well. A stay at home bruiser and a puck moving fast skating qb so to speak. As pointed out its the style of todays NHL. Hunt being the free wheeling fast moving but often at times defensive liability is the odd man out. When compared to our other blue liners. My own personal pairings would be:
Schmidt Sbisa, McNabb Miller, Engelland Theodore
Steven J Smith
Yeah, I’d go with McNabb right now. I’m surprised Merrill hasn’t played better; off his play in New Jersey, I thought he’d be getting more time. Hunt, Merrill, McNabb are toss ups to me. I like your other two pairings
Hunt has impressed in preseason and regular. Theo has in the A but not NHL. Everybody earns their minutes. Who’s to say Theodore will ever be better than Hunt? Show us. Why keep a fifth round pick for playoffs in three when this is looking like playoffs in one as attainable. Show us.
Steven J Smith
Sorry Cody, I’ll go out on a broken limb and tell you Hunt never has been and never will be better than Theo. Show you?? When was your last time at the eye doc?
I have to agree with Smith here bud. It’s nothing personal but after watching Hunt during the preseason, he’s more qualified to be a 3rd line winger than he is back at the blue line.
With the personnel we have available and rotations possible, Theodore should see more ice time. Shea has has all the upsides to learn and hopefully (maybe a bit of stretch) develope into a Duncan Keith esque type, Hunt does not.