Sunday, June 23, 2019 | 12:21 p.m.
It appears “Wild Bill” is here to say.
Golden Knights fans woke up Sunday to multiple reports that William Karlsson had agreed to a max-length extension to remain with the team through the 2027 season. The deal is expected to be official later this week.
The Athletic reported it would be an eight-year deal with a $5.9 million annual average value.
Karlsson had a disappointing season in 2018-19 after bursting into stardom two years ago.
In Vegas’ inaugural season, he was third in the NHL with 43 goals and racked up 78 points to help win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He became a restricted free agent last summer but was unable to come to a long-term agreement and signed a one-year, $5.25 million deal.
Karlsson slipped to 24 goals and 56 points this season, but his defense never wavered and he maintained his chemistry with linemates Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.
There was debate about how Karlsson should be valued, and whether the 43-goal scorer or the 24-goal scorer was closer to his true potential. Reports said Karlsson was looking for length and stability in his new contract while Vegas, already over next season’s salary cap, wanted a reasonable annual cap hit.
This contract appears to be the compromise, as Karlsson will take home less per year than comparable free agents like New York’s Brock Nelson ($6 million per year) and Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes ($7.143 million) who recently signed new deals.
Neither Nelson nor Hayes, who both had more leverage as unrestricted free agents, signed for eight years, though both were eligible.
Karlsson is the latest member of the Golden Knights’ core to ink a long-term deal, becoming the sixth player to be under contract for at least five more seasons. He joins Mark Stone for the longest locked-up at eight years with Alex Tuch signed for seven, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore at six and Marchessault at five.
The Golden Knights now have a projected cap hit of $89.025 million for next season, which is $7.525 million over the cap. Vegas will need to trade players in order to get under the salary cap so those with a bigger cap hit like Colin Miller and Cody Eakin appear to be natural candidates.
The Golden Knights have until the end of training camp, however, so a deal is not guaranteed to come immediately.