Last year the Vegas Golden Knights had the opportunity to go to every NHL team and take one player to build their franchise. They got some fantastic players in this draft, including franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, leading goal scorer William Karlsson and arguably one of the Anaheim Ducks better young defensemen in Shea Theodore.
When the Vegas Golden Knights got to the Anaheim Ducks, a unique team who had a very deep defensive line up, the Ducks had to think quickly to not lose a valuable piece for nothing. In the end, the Ducks gave Vegas star defensive prospect Shea Theodore in exchange for taking the bad contract of Clayton Stoner off the Ducks hands.
With the expansion draft looming and the Ducks hurting after a Game 6 loss in the Western Conference Final, Ducks general manager Bob Murray had to go to work. He had very little space to work with because of the rules that were involved in the expansion draft. Because of the four no-movement clauses that the Ducks had to work around and the very deep defensive corp that he had to protect. Murray had to give something up. He gave the Knights Shea Theodore in exchange for taking Clayton Stoner and leaving the Ducks to keep Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm.
Brandon Montour, who was draft exempt at the time, was given a heavy load to bear with the departure of Theodore. Montour had somewhat of a breakout season in the 2016-17 season, getting called up after Stoner was injured and playing in the big league and cutting his teeth so to speak. The Ducks and Bob Murray put a lot of faith in him and took a gamble on Montour, letting Theodore go.
During the regular season, the Knights were nothing short of astonishing. They broke many records that other expansion teams had set in previous years. Backed by Fleury, the Knights hit the ground running. They went 7-2-1 in the first 10 games in franchise history. Theodore started his season in the AHL, mostly because he was one of the players eligible to play in the AHL while the Knights staff felt out the team. He didn’t last long in the AHL though, playing in 61 regular season games, notching six goals and 23 assists. He came up the ranks of defensemen quickly and has become a top pairing mainstay. He helped the Knights make it to the Stanley Cup Final.
Brandon Montour was playing top minutes through the Ducks playoff run with Cam Fowler out with injury. Shea Theodore was also playing top minutes. Not due to injury but because he is a top defenseman on the Knights roster. Both players are great young defensemen. They both are part of the future for their respective teams. Brandon Montour will be a top-four defenseman for the ducks for many years to come. His contract is up and he is a restricted free agent but the Ducks will likely ink him to a long-term deal with a well-deserved raise. Shea Theodore will be a leader in the Knights franchise and a huge part of how the team develops in the future.
It seems to be a draw if you were to put the two against each other. Letting Theodore walk was a needed evil for the Ducks long-term plans. It allowed them to cover players like Sami Vatanen that eventually ended up bringing in Adam Henrique when the Ducks desperately needed help down the middle.
Main Photo: NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 18: Brandon Montour #26 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 18, 2017, in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Ducks 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)