The trade talk surrounding Ottawa Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson has all but died out at this stage of the offseason and, although many expected that he had already played his final game as a Senator, it now seems like there is a realistic chance that he may actually start the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season on the Senators roster.
Although that trade may or may not come to materialize before the start of the regular season it may still be having some long lasting reverberations throughout the league. This seems to be especially true for the Las Vegas Golden Knights organization, a team that is believed to have been exceedingly close on two separate occasions to having acquired Karlsson. The Golden Knights reportedly came close just minutes before the NHL trade deadline, a move they would likely come to regret given the impact a player like Karlsson could have had in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, as well as during the offseason when they, the Dallas Stars, and the Tampa Bay Lightning were all believed to be frontrunners.
As you would expect the Golden Knights would have had to put one hell of an offer on the table just to get in on those talks and according to multiple rumors from a variety of different sources one of the key pieces in that deal was believed to have been Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore. Theodore is a former Anaheim Ducks 1st round draft pick and it makes perfect sense that the Senators would have pushed to get him in any deal involving Erik Karlsson. Although no one would project him to ever develop into the kind of generational player that Karlsson appears to be he remains a very good defenseman and one with several years of control for the organization that owns his contract.
Unsurprisingly given the fact that the Golden Knights were dangling Theodore in this potential trade deal the restricted free agent entered the summer with no contract and then spent the next several weeks without a deal as well. When you consider the fact that Theodore does not have arbitration rights this summer he has very little leverage so it's not all that unusual to see him without a deal immediately in free agency, but the sand is starting to run out in the hour glass.
In fact most of the high profile restricted free agents already have their deals this summer and those that don't also find themselves in somewhat special circumstances. William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs has himself been linked to trade rumors, potentially in a trade involving St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, and Josh Morrissey of the Winnipeg Jets hasn't been signed but that is likely to the fact that the Jets need to think long and hard about giving him a long term deal immediately following his entry level contract.
Golden Knights general manager George McPhee recently addressed the issue and although he stressed there remained plenty of time it was also clear that he wants this deal done sooner rather than later.
“We’ll continue to discuss and see if something can be done that makes sense for both parties,” McPhee said as per the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We’re still (four) weeks away from camp and two months away from the season, but it’d be nice if we can reach an agreement there and know what to expect going forward.”
Theodore does have one tool for leverage hear, a potential hold out. If Theodore and the Golden Knights do not reach an agreement before December 1st he would not be eligible to play for the entire season, something both sides would obviously prefer to avoid. This is quickly shaping up into a situation similar to the one that unfolded between defenseman Jacob Trouba and the Winnipeg Jets just a few years ago. Although there were many rumors regarding a potential trade at that time as well the Jets and Trouba were able to come to an agreement, albeit a short term one. Whether or not McPhee and Theodore will be able to do so however remains to be seen.