Three years ago defenseman Shea Theodore held out of training camp to force his hand which nudged the Golden Knights to offer him a 7 year/$36M contract. From that moment forward Theodore became an emerging star and was considered one of the more vital players on the roster.
“If you’re going to do a long-term deal, you have to get the right numbers. Really have to trust your instincts, trust the experience, trust the scouting reports from your pro staff, trust the analytics data, and make a good decision. We rely on all those resources to make a good decision and we think we made one here and time will tell.”- George McPhee, September 2018
Remember, McPhee didn’t have to offer Theodore anymore than the required qualifying offer (slightly above the league minimum) and the player’s only recourse would have been to sit out the entire season. However, both parties came to an agreement locking in the young defenseman until the 2024-25 season.
When the contract was signed Theodore became the 45th highest-paid defenseman in the NHL. Three years later, he’s a top-echelon player but dropped to the 53rd most expensive d-man in the league. Today the deal looks even better than it did three seasons ago and it looks like it’s only going to get better. The front office’s gut feeling secured a great player and a long-term, team-friendly deal. It was all about the early investment for the organization.
Since 2018-19, Theodore has kept up with the NHL’s best blueliners in games played, goals, points, and shots. He’s also become one of the league’s most effective 5-on-5 offensive defensemen.
Theodore’s NHL DEF Rankings Since 2018-19
Games Played: 203 (20th)
Shots: 582 (4th)
Assists: 92 (14th)
Goals: 33 (12th)
Points: 125 (12th)
Even-Strength Goals: 27 (8th)
Power Play Points: 40 (20th)
Overtime Goals: 3 (9th)
It was all about the early investment for the organization. Back in 2018, Vegas’ front office brilliantly managed to pay enough to satisfy a high-level player in order to annually help their salary cap. The underpaid defenseman aided the team’s flexibility to sign Alex Pietrangelo. Spending a combined $14M for both quickly turned into a wise investment for Vegas.
We thought if we paid a little more now and add a contract that was pretty steady throughout its term, we have cost certainty in the future it allows us to manage the cap better… And he is a good young player and we have some unrestricted years and now he can just play. It’s never perfect, we didn’t get everything we wanted, and he didn’t get everything he wanted, but it’s a deal. -McPhee, September 2018
Let’s be honest, the Golden Knights were hoping Theodore was vastly underpaid by the time his contract expires in 2024, but you could argue he’s already greatly underpaid in 2021.
Either way, it’s been a success for both sides. The 26-year-old left enough room for the front office to build a championship club around him for the foreseeable future. Bottom line, if the Golden Knights go on to win the Stanley Cup this season, Theodore’s discounted cap hit and impact on the ice will be two reasons why.