Karlsson, Golden Knights avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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They waited until the 11th hour, but the Vegas Golden Knights and scorer of many goals, William Karlsson, have settled on a new deal just prior to their arbitration hearing, which was scheduled for Saturday morning.

Wild Bill’s contract is a one-year pact worth $5.25 million and appears to be a win-win for both sides.

The contract allows the Golden Knights to see if Karlsson can replicate this past season’s success and avoids the risk of signing him long-term only for him to find a steep regression.

For Karlsson, it’s a nice bump in pay from the $1 million he made last season, and a chance to move into the stratosphere next summer in terms of annual average value.

Vegas played it safe here, knowing they’ll have to pay more next summer should Karlsson hit the repeat button.

Karlsson will become a restricted free agent with the same arbitration rights he had this year, next offseason. If things are going well by Jan. 1, the Golden Knights and Karlsson’s camp can open up extension talks.

[Should Golden Knights go long or short-term with William Karlsson?]

Karlsson was nothing short of spectacular this season for the Golden Knights, coming out of nowhere to produce at an elite rate. Picked up from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the expansion draft, Karlsson went on to amass a whopping 43 goals in 82 games in his third season — not bad considering he scored a total of 18 in 183 previous NHL games. His best season total before 2017-18? Nine goals – annihilating his previous best.

His 43 goals placed him third in the league behind two other elite snipers in Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine.

The Golden Knights will enter the 2018-19 season with the line of Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith intact. The trio was nothing short of dominant all season long, combining for 216 points. Karlsson led the way with 78 of those and was Vegas’ top goal scorer and point producer.

Karlsson’s fine form continued in the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, posting seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

His performance this past season, coupled with his uber-low 12 penalty minutes, earned him the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and his fat new contract.

Karlsson was reportedly asking for $6.5 million per season while the Golden Knights were offering $3.5 million. They ended up nearly splitting it down the middle, with Karlsson getting $1.75 million more than the team wanted and $1.25 million less than where his number began.

It’s nice to see that a team and a player can figure out roughly what an arbitrator is going to do beforehand and avoid the process.

The Golden Knights now sit at roughly $71 million counting against $79.5 million salary cap for next season, per CapFriendly. The Golden Knights have just one more restricted free agent to sign, that being defenseman Shea Theodore.

With a potential $1.425 million in bonuses to be paid out this year, Vegas still has roughly $7 million in cap room to play with.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck