The Vegas Golden Knights and star center William Karlsson appear headed for an arbitration meeting on Saturday as both sides don’t seem close on a financial agreement.
Karlsson, who led Vegas with 43 goals last season for the reigning Western Conference champions, is asking for a new deal at $6.5 million. The Golden Knights have filed for $3.5 million, according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
This could be the second straight summer the Golden Knights enter an arbitration hearing. Nate Schmidt, who sought a one-year deal worth $2.75 million last season, was awarded a two-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Schmidt was the only player out of 30 to have his case heard by an arbitrator.
Karlsson is a more interesting case. He went from six goals in 2017 with Columbus, to leading the Golden Knights with 78 points. This year’s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner recorded only 12 penalty minutes in 2017-18, Karlsson anchored Vegas top penalty killing unit and finished sixth in the Selke Trophy voting.
Karlsson’s sudden scoring burst was key to the Golden Knights boasting one of the top scoring first lines in the NHL last season. Jonathan Marchessault, who signed a six-year extension worth an AAV of $5 million in January, had 75 points. Reilly Smith is entering the second year of a five-year deal, also worth an AAV of $5 million, and he was fourth on Vegas with 60 points last season.
The reported $6.5 million would make Karlsson the highest-paid player on the Golden Knights in 2018-19, tied with new Vegas forward Paul Stastny. Vegas has approximately $13 million remaining in cap space, per Cap Friendly.
Vegas signed defenseman Colin Miller and forward Tomas Nosek to new deals to avoid arbitration hearings, as well.
There’s still time for Karlsson and the Golden Knights to come to an agreement on a new deal for the hearing Saturday. But even this is more far apart than one could’ve imagined. When signing Marchessault to his extension, general manager George McPhee stressed the importance of keeping the top line together.
Right now, with no deal in place, things could get interesting over the weekend.