Swedish center William Karlsson was set to hit restricted free agency once free agency begins but that will no longer be the case as the Vegas Golden Knights have locked him up to an eight-year deal worth $47.2 million. The deal was first reported by Pierre LeBrun of TSN, then it was reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN that the deal would be for right around $6 million annually, and then Jesse Granger of The Athletic confirmed the deal is going to be for $5.9 million per season.
Karlsson’s career got off to a slow start with him starting in Anaheim before being traded to Columbus. After two full seasons in Columbus that saw him only put up 45 total points he was left unprotected in the expansion draft that was held when the Golden Knights were going to pick their team and when he went to Vegas his career took off.
In his first season in Vegas he was dominant, finishing third in the league in goals scored with 43, he finished second in short-handed goals with four, finished third in even strength goals with 31, and first in plus/minus at a +49 and most importantly first in shooting percentage at 23.4%, which was first by a good amount.
Now this season we did see a bit of a dropoff in his play as he dropped to 56 points and only 24 goals and his shooting percentage dropped to 14.2%. That dropoff was also reflected in his point shares as he finished with 11.8 point shares his first season in Vegas, which included him being top-ten in offensive win shares that season, but this past season he dropped to 5.7.
So which William Karlsson is the William Karlsson that the Golden Knights will be getting going forward on this long contract? The answer is probably realistically somewhere in the middle. He is clearly a very talented center putting together the season that he did in the 2017-18 season and last season all-in-all wasn’t a terrible season, it just wasn’t close to the season he produced before on either end of the ice.
With Karlsson only set to turn 27-years old in the middle of this upcoming season this was a predictable move for the Knights to make. Karlsson clearly has the ability to be one of the top centers in all of hockey and even though this deal ties the team to him for nearly a decade, the overall cap hit per year isn’t bad at all because most very good centers make roughly between $8 and $10 million per season before you get to the elite guys like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.
So with that being said I think the Golden Knights got a good deal in this one. Vegas is going to have a busy offseason because now we know they are over the new cap that was set Saturday at $81.5 million, so they will have to do some retooling of the roster, but keeping a talented young center in Karlsson is the right move to make because Vegas should still be good and Karlsson is a centerpiece of the team.
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