Norfolk receives some temporary help on the blue line.
Anaheim’s 2013 first-round pick, defenseman Shea Theodore, will be in Norfolk on a conditioning stint. During rookie camp, Theodore sustained a right elbow sprain which held him out for Ducks training camp. Theodore’s assignment to Norfolk means he is ready to get back on the ice and play hockey. The surprising part, of course, is that he’s technically not AHL eligible under the CHL/AHL rules.
If he had not been injured, Ducks management would have been faced with three different scenarios out of camp. First, Theodore could have killed it in camp and had a look in up to 9 NHL games. If they didn’t think he would stick, he would be sent back to WHL Seattle. Second, he could stick in the NHL and burn a year off of his ELC. Third, and the most likely, is that he would immediately be returned to Seattle after camp. All of this because he’s 19 and drafted out of the CHL. Never mind that the AHL eligibility age is 18. Hampus Lindholm played as an 18-year-old rookie, and 18-year-old David Pastrnak is killing it for the Providence Bruins.
A loophole does exist for CHL players to get in the AHL for a few games, outside of the end-of-the-year ATO. Prized prospect Jonathan Drouin, for example, was also given rehab in the American league. Drouin could have played for two weeks with the Crunch. He lasted two games. Shea Theodore will most likely play two weeks with the Admirals, and then returned to WHL Seattle.
Norfolk plays two home games this weekend against Wikes-Barre/Scranton and will play Bridgeport and Syracuse next week on the road. Theodore plays a position of need for the Ads. After losing Josh Manson to Anaheim and Aaron Rome to injury, the defensive corps is depleted. Theodore played 8 total games for the Admirals, netting 1+2=3 points and 7 shots on goal in 4 games in the Calder Cup playoffs. He is still a puck-moving talent who can generate offense from the blue line. I lineup move I would not be shocked by is to see Kevin Gagne moved back to forward/seventh defenseman in order to accommodate Theodore in the defensive pairings.
Shea Theodore will not solve all the Admirals’ woes. Admittedly, it would help if he was a goalie. He may provide a spark to the power play as well as puck possession in the offensive zone. If he shows signs of performing at a high level, he can’t stay in the AHL thanks to archaic rules.
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