On Sunday afternoon, the NHL Network released their annual top 20 defensemen rankings, and both Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo of the Vegas Golden Knights cracked the list.
Pietrangelo, 32, just barely made the cut, as he was given the 19th spot on the list. While it is a drop from where he was ranked just a year ago, he is rather lucky to have a spot at all after a disappointing 2021-22 season. Since deciding to join the Golden Knights from the St. Louis Blues on a seven-year, $61.6 million deal, he has been somewhat of a letdown given the elite caliber player he had been prior. In 80 games this past season he registered 13 goals and 44 points.
On the other hand, Theodore, 27, was given the 15th spot on the list. This comes as little surprise as he has continued to get better and better since being selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft from the Anaheim Ducks. In 78 games this past season, he established career highs with 14 goals and 52 points while averaging over 23 minutes of ice time.
After a 2021-22 season in which the Golden Knights shockingly missed the playoffs, Pietrangelo and Theodore will need to be at their best to ensure their team gets back on track in 2022-23. Themselves, along with players like Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault all give general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s roster plenty of star names on paper, though none of that matters if they don’t live up to it on the ice. There will be immense pressure on all of them starting this fall.
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