For the first time since the season ended, Golden Knights forward William Karlsson spoke about his contract situation at the NHL Awards media availability on Tuesday.
Although Karlsson did say contract negotiations between his agent, Michael Deutsch, and the Golden Knights are yet to begin, the 25-year-old restricted free agent did reiterate his desire to remain in Vegas long-term.
“I just know that I want to stay here and hopefully they want the same thing,” said Karlsson. “I like it here in Vegas. I like the organization and the city around it. This is where I want to be and we will see what happens.”
Pretty encouraging words from Wild Bill and I think it’s clear that both sides would like to get a deal done at some point. Of course, when you’re coming off a career year where you scored a team-high 43 goals and 78 points, and you only made $1 million, negotiations will be tricky, especially since Karlsson is a restricted free agent.
His RFA status is what makes things interesting, though. In a nutshell, the Golden Knights can extend a qualifying offer to Karlsson or sign him to a long-term deal, which seems likely. Or, the Knights can take Karlsson to arbitration and make their case as to why they believe he is only worth ex-amount of dollars.
The flip side to this, however, is that other teams can contact RFAs to discuss an offer sheet starting at 12:01 am ET on June 26. NHL teams rarely extend offer sheets, though, so I highly doubt we see another team make an offer to Karlsson.
In all likelihood, the Golden Knights and Karlsson’s agent will come together at some point and hammer out a new deal for the Lady Byng finalist. Again, I would imagine these contract negotiations will be tricky since Karlsson had an insanely good season last year and he is due for a handsome pay increase.
The obvious issue when it comes to negotiating any long-term deal for Karlsson is that he has never come close to producing these numbers before, so was this season an anomaly? Or was it a true breakout season and a sign of things to come going forward?
Considering Karlsson had a 23.4 percent shooting percentage this past season, I think it’s safe to say he will regress a bit next season. How much he will regress is the question George McPhee and company must determine, though, since their projections will likely have an impact on Karlsson’s next contract.
Optics aside, the fact Wild Bill is adamant about staying in Las Vegas long-term is an extremely positive sign for the Golden Knights. And based on Karlsson’s encouraging comments, it sounds like it’s only a matter of time until the two sides work something out.