Golden Knights sign Shea Theodore to 7-year, $36.4 million deal

The wait is over, as Vegas gets its young defenseman locked up before the regular season.

The Vegas Golden Knights have signed 23-year-old defenseman Shea Theodore to a seven-year deal worth an average annual value of $5.2 million, the team announced after Monday’s preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Theodore, a restricted free agent, missed the beginning of training camp and Vegas’ first five preseason games before agreeing to terms. The Golden Knights have two preseason games remaining.

Vegas general manager George McPhee said Monday night that the club and Theodore agreed to the new deal after the first period. Vegas lost 5-3 to Colorado at T-Mobile Arena.

As restricted free agents continued to come off the market — Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey, Miles Wood, to name a few — it appeared the market for other RFAs was set (roughly two years, approximately $3 million AAV).

McPhee said representation for Theodore was seeking that term of two years, but the Golden Knights wanted to pursue a longer deal that would take Theodore into his age-30 season. There is a five-team no-trade clause in years six and seven, and Theodore’s AAV will be $5.2 million throughout the duration of the deal.

“You can look at the cap in certain ways, and we have a lot of space this year and probably next year,” McPhee said. “We’d like to use it to helps us in the future, use more of it now. We thought if we paid a little more now and we had a contract that was pretty steady throughout its term, and we have cost certainty in the future, it allows us to manage the cap better and plan better as a result for what we want to do for the next couple of years.

“He’s a good young player and we got some unrestricted years, and now he can just play.”

The Golden Knights’ next preseason game is Friday against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena. It’s unclear if Theodore will play, but he is expected to join the club on a team bonding trip to Montana at owner Bill Foley’s ranch.

McPhee confirmed that Vegas will carry eight defensemen into the regular season. With Theodore’s addition, that number sits at nine minus the suspended Nate Schmidt. McPhee also confirmed that one of Erik Brannstrom or Jake Bischoff will be the final cut and a decision will be made in the coming days.

“One of them will have to go.”

Theodore was acquired in the expansion draft from the Anaheim Ducks via the Golden Knights’ selection of Clayton Stoner. Theodore was a top-four defenseman last year, paired with Deryk Engelland. He had 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) and scored 10 points in Vegas’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

“We were pretty confident based on the way he played last year and what he did at his age last year, to really play that well and play that well in the playoffs,” McPhee said. “We were confident of what we were going to have now and in the future.”