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Knights defenseman nearing return from upper-body injury

Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore is one step closer to returning to the lineup.

Theodore, who hasn’t played since Nov. 22 because of an upper-body injury that required surgery, was a full participant in the Knights’ Wednesday practice. He wore a red no-contact jersey in three previous skates with his teammates.

“It’s one of the last steps before he gets cleared,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I don’t have an exact timeline, but it’s a lot closer than it was a week ago.”

The Knights don’t play again until hosting the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. Theodore hasn’t been ruled out yet, but he may end up needing more time to ramp up.

“Next week is probably a little more realistic. I’m not going to put a timeline on it because it’s only Wednesday,” Cassidy said. “But we’re excited just with the fact he’s mixing in with the group.”

Theodore, who is still on long-term injured reserve and was unavailable for comment Wednesday, underwent surgery on his upper-body injury at the end of November.

His return would be a huge boost for a blue line that’s deal with injuries all season. Brayden McNabb is the only defenseman on the team that hasn’t missed at least five games.

“(Theodore) brings a lot,” said McNabb, Theodore’s usual partner. “He’s very well-liked. He’s a great guy and a great friend. Then when you put him on the ice, he’s got a lot of abilities everyone wishes they had. He skates effortlessly up and down the ice, sees the play well, can break out the puck on his own if he wants.”

One thing the Knights could use is the offense Theodore can bring.

His return should help a slumping power play that’s converted two of its last 19 opportunities. He’ll also be able to get the team moving in transition.

Theodore has great vision and knows how to spring forwards through the neutral zone. That’s an element the Knights have lacked in his absence. He also opens up things for the team inside the offensive zone with his ability to make plays from the point.

“Shea is in a class of four or five guys in the league who can dance around the blue line and create things,” Cassidy said. “Other guys have a tougher time and there’s a risk-reward factor where if you lose a puck, they’re gone the other way on a breakaway. Shea has a comfort level up there and the lateral mobility to do it as well as anybody.

“So we miss some offense from up there. That’s a part of the game that’s really not easy to teach. It’s a natural talent and he has it.”

Theodore isn’t the only defenseman the Knights could get back soon.

Defenseman Ben Hutton, who suffered a hand injury while blocking a shot Dec. 28, was activated off injured reserve. The Knights opened up a roster spot for Hutton by placing left wing Pavel Dorofeyev on injured reserve.

Dorofeyev was elbowed in the head by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba on Jan. 26 and hasn’t played since. Trouba was suspended two games without pay for the hit.

“(Dorofeyev) hasn’t progressed as well as we would have liked,” Cassidy said. “Other than that, there is no timeline for him. Everyone saw what happened. We have to be very careful and make sure the player is 100 percent before participating in whatever the next step of rehab is. He’s been on the ice a little bit, but not ready to get in there with the group.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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