Progress toward a new contract for Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore continues to be dormant with training camp on the horizon.
Vegas general manager George McPhee said Thursday there is no update on a new deal for the restricted free agent defenseman, and that the Golden Knights are prepared to go into training camp with their 23-year-old defenseman still lacking a deal.
“Hopefully we’ll get something done sooner than later,” McPhee said. “You go with the guys you have. I can’t blame him for not being here if we don’t have a deal done. He’s welcome to come to camp.”
Theodore’s contract situation, as McPhee eluded to, is complex because he doesn’t have arbitration rights. McPhee said he prefers the arbitration route because it provides a template for getting a deal done. That’s how the Golden Knights were able to come to a deal with defenseman Nate Schmidt last summer, and narrowly avoided arbitration with leading goal scorer William Karlsson this year.
But Theodore’s lack of a contract also comes at the heels of Schmidt being suspended the first 20 games of the regular season due to violating the league’s performance enhancement substance policy. Theodore, who averaged 20:21 of ice time last season in 61 games, is expected to be Vegas’ top blue liner in Schmidt’s absence if he is signed.
Much like last year, McPhee would like to carry eight defensemen on the roster in 2018-19 — Brayden McNabb, Deryk Engelland, Colin Miller, Jon Merrill, Nick Holden and Brad Hunt are the six active d-men for Vegas. This could potentially open the door for one of the young Vegas defensemen — primarily former first-round pick Erik Brannstrom — to get a shot on the opening day roster.
“I like carrying eight defensemen and we’ve done it because some of the young guys weren’t really ready to be called up, so we wanted to carry eight,” McPhee said. “We’re carrying eight again next year. The good news is, we’ve got guys that can be called up this year.”
Brannstrom, meanwhile, said he’s aware of the situation pertaining to his fellow defensemen, but his primary focus is on the upcoming rookie showcase starting Saturday and trying to let his play dictate if he makes the Golden Knights this season.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit, but not too much,” he said. “I’m just thinking about my own performance. We’ll see after that.”
McPhee said he feels no pressure to get a Theodore deal done amidst Schmidt’s absence, but that will not stall the efforts between now and the start of camp to get something done.
“It’s always best to have all of your guys available,” McPhee said. “We’ll do a deal when the deal is right. If he’s not here, someone else will play.”
Will the Golden Knights sign Shea Theodore to a new deal before training camp?
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