Restricted free agent Shea Theodore ended his contract stalemate with the Golden Knights late Monday.
The 23-year-old defenseman signed a seven-year, $36.4 million deal and is expected to join the team Tuesday for their two-day retreat to owner Bill Foley’s ranch in Montana.
Theodore is now the highest-paid defenseman on the team with an average annual salary of $5.2 million. He is expected to be ready for the season opener Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
“We’re happy to have everybody done now,” general manager George McPhee said following the Knights’ 5-3 preseason loss to Colorado at T-Mobile Arena. “Sometimes it takes a little longer than you anticipated. Basically the issues were they wanted to go shorter term and we wanted longer term. You just have to get the numbers right on those deals.
“We got to a place today where we had a couple of options. A six-year deal, a seven-year deal. And we thought we were pretty close. We got it done just after the first period.”
McPhee said Theodore and his agent, Craig Oster, had been seeking a two-year deal. Should Theodore develop into a top-pair defenseman, the Knights will get good value at the back end of the contract.
The contract includes a five-team no-trade clause in the final two years. Oster could not be reached for comment.
“Looking forward to sticking around Vegas for 7 more years!!!,” Theodore posted on his official Twitter account. “Can’t wait to get season 2 started!”
Looking forward to sticking around Vegas for 7 more years!!!🙌
Can’t wait to get season 2 started!
— Shea Theodore (@stheodore17) September 25, 2018
Theodore had six goals and 29 points in 61 games and was second on the Knights in average ice time (20:21). He also ran the No. 1 power play unit.
The Knights currently have a little more than $4 million in salary cap space after the Theodore signing.
“It’s about, for us, managing the cap properly,” McPhee said. “You can look at the cap in certain ways. We’ve got a lot of space this year and probably will next year, so we’d like to use it to help us in the future. Use more of it now.
“It’s sort of like perishable inventory. If you don’t use it at the end of the year it’s of no value. We thought if we paid a little more now and 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.”
With Theodore now in the fold, the Knights have nine defensemen competing for eight spots on the 23-man roster. That leaves Jake Bischoff and Erik Brannstrom, who are both waiver-exempt, to compete for the final job.
“We had a plan of who the eight were with Nate out and Theodore out,” McPhee said. “The two guys would have been Brannstrom and Bischoff. They’ve played very well, so they would have been here. Someone will have to go now, and we’ll address that in a few days.”