When Cam Fowler was injured on April 5th, it seemed to be a big blow to the Anaheim Ducks playoff run. With a first round series against the Calgary Flames only days away, the Ducks had lost their number one defensemen. However, the Fowler injury made way for one of the many, young Ducks defensemen. It made way for the rise of Shea Theodore. Fast forward to the second round. Theodore is still showing he has all the makings of a number one defensemen, and giving the Ducks something to think about this summer.
The Rise of Shea Theodore
Shea Theodore turning into a solid NHL player comes as no shock. He was selected 26th overall by the Ducks in the 2014 NHL Draft. Theodore spent his junior hockey career with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. He put up impressive offensive numbers, racking up 212 points in 257 career games. In 2015 he helped Canada win gold and the World Junior Hockey Championships, chipping in 3 points in 7 games.
He finished the 2015 season in the American Hockey league and continued to improve from there. In his first full season in the AHL he put up impressive number, tallying 37 points in 50 games. He began the 2016-2017 with the San Diego Gulls, but after just 26 games was called up to the Anaheim Ducks and has never looked back.
Proving His Worth
Theodore appeared in 34 regular season games for the Ducks, recording nine points during that time. While his offensive numbers do not jump off the page, his overall play was impressive. He posted a Corsi for percentage at even strength of 50.2% and a Fenwick for percentage at even strength of 50.3%. Those rank third on the Ducks blue line for players who played 30 games or more. For a 21-year-old defensemen, it’s a solid starting point.
In the playoffs, Theodore’s game is at a whole new level. The absence of Cam Fowler in round one opened up a spot on the top power play for Theodore. It also resulted in his ice-time going from 17 minutes per game to 18:45. Theodore has seven points so far in seven games. That is good enough for third on the team and tops among Ducks defensemen. He has also shown improvement in other areas as well. After blocking just 30 shots during the regular season, he has blocked 12 so far during the post season in just seven games.
While offensively he has shown he can play at the highest level, he still has work to do in regards to his overall game. He is protected by head coach Randy Carlyle, starting just 36.6% of the time in the defensive zone. The knock on Theodore coming into the NHL was he takes too many risks. However, it is important to keep in mind how young he is. He is also a great skater, and has the physical tools to be a great player.
The rise of Theodore has created a problem. However, it’s a great problem to have. Anaheim have a surplus of young defensemen who have the potential to be top pairing players. Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, both who are under 26, recently signed multi-year deals. Brandon Montour, another mid-season call up, has played fantastic for Anaheim. In fact, Montour is playing over 20 minutes a game so far in the playoffs. He also anchors the back end with Theodore on the second power play unit. Add in the steady playing Josh Manson and the injured Simon Despres and the Ducks have a comical amount of talent on the blue line. With so many young players playing well, it could mean Cam Fowler is on his way out. Fowler has been rumoured in trade talks before and has just one year left on his contract.
Shea Theodore is showing the organization he can be a top pairing player. He has produced at every level and is finally displaying his offensive talented on the biggest stage in hockey. He still has to improve defensively, but has shown he can adjust in the NHL. The Ducks look to have another star on the blue line, and you can bet the rest of the league is taking notice.