Golden Knights to sign William Karlsson to 8-year contract, per report

That’s a steal for the Golden Knights in the present, as the Swedish center reportedly wanted term.

The Vegas Golden Knights and center William Karlsson are closing in an on eight-year contract to keep the former Lady Byng winner for the long term, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic.

Jesse Granger of The Athletic reports that it will be a deal worth $5.9 million AAV and is to be signed in the coming days.

At just 26, that’s a steal for the Golden Knights for a very long time.

Term has always been a strong point for Karlsson when it comes to a new contract. The Golden Knights signed Karlsson to a one-year contract worth $5.25 million last August to avoid arbitration. Karlsson was coming off a 43-goal season in Vegas’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

As discussions continued between both sides, the constant number for Karlsson was AAV of $6.5 million, according to a source, the number between the new deals for Brock Nelson and Kevin Hayes. But no matter the dollar amount, years and long-term security have been the most important components to Karlsson. He has been coveting a long-term deal since Jonathan Marchessault signed a six-year, $30 million extension on Jan. 3, 2018, sources said, and wanted to get it done in Vegas.

Karlsson scored 24 goals and 32 assists for the Golden Knights in the regular last season,  as he came off a very high shooting percentage and 43 goals in the inaugural season for Vegas. Still, he looked very much the player he was between Reilly Smith and Marchessault that first year, continuing to be a prominent two-way forward and someone who could score at all three aspects of the game (he had three shorthanded points and 14 on the power play).

Karlsson made his line better last season, to the tune of a 54.37 percent shot share and 55.26 percent expected goal share with him and a 51.28 percent shot share and 53.21 percent goal share without him.

He’ll likely slot back in that very same spot for the near future, as the line continues to be used interchangeably as the “first line” with the trio of Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, and Max Pacioretty. That top six should constitute one of the best in the NHL.

That’s great news for the Golden Knights, who have made it to the playoffs in back-to-back years in large part because of the trio of Smith, Karlsson, and Marchessault. Having each of them signed for multiple years now is a great thing.

Of course, the deal being eight years means the Golden Knights are committed to Karlsson until he’s 34, but they’ve gone long distance with both Stastny and Stone, with both of them passing that age while under contract with Vegas. The term shouldn’t be too concerning.

The deal also means Vegas has more cap to clear. With no trades involving players at the draft, the Golden Knights still need to get underneath the cap ceiling, and currently sit north of $89 million. The cap is $81.5 million for the 2019-20 season, which means the Golden Knights need to clear $7.5 million, and more, if they wish to sign Nikita Gusev.

How they do that has yet to be determined, but signing Karlsson to a relatively cap-friendly deal is a good first step.