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The Golden Knights Need More Out of William Karlsson

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William Karlsson - Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Sammi Silber- Washington Hockey Now)

The Vegas Golden Knights are struggling to find consistent offense this season. Just when it seems like they have a player getting hot that player either falls off or gets injured. Exhibit A is Max Pacioretty, who fell off harder than season one of the Book of Boba Fett.

The Golden Knights have scored just ten goals in their last six games. For the first time in franchise history, they were shut out in consecutive games against the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames.

A player that has had an overall lackluster 2021-22 season so far is William Karlsson. After his astonishing 43-goal season in the Golden Knight’s first year in the NHL Karlsson’s numbers have only gone down each and every year. This season he has 7 goals, 11 assists, and 18 points in 38 games played.

Granted, in early November and into December, Karlsson missed six weeks with a broken foot (X-Wing accident). He is now on pace for 38 points in a 67 game season. This would be a career-low in points for Karlsson since joining the Golden Knights.

A Shrinking Role

Karlsson’s role has shrunk over the years with the Golden Knights bringing in guys like Jack Eichel, Max Pacioretty, and Mark Stone. But Karlsson is still a crucial part of the Golden Knights offense.

Naturally, as his role with the Golden Knights has changed, his ice time and overall chances to score have as well. But Karlsson is still the fourth-highest paid player on the Golden Knights offense at $5.9 million.

He’s no good to me dead.

Karlsson has gone through scoring droughts this season that are drier than the sands of Tatooine. Currently, Karlsson has just one point in his last six games and has one goal in his last 12 games.

Even with his decreased role as a second-line center, this is simply not enough given his $5.9 million cap hit.

This is not to say he has not been getting his chances on the Misfit Line alongside Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. But in terms of putting the puck in the back of the net, Smith, and Marchessault are carrying the workload on the line.

We have even seen  Chandler Stephenson emerge as what can be argued as a better center this season.

Comparisons Across the League

I want to now look at some names across the NHL who I think are all similar players to Karlsson with their role on their respective teams. In the Pacific Division, Philip Danault is having a solid first season with the Los Angeles Kings. He has 15 goals and 15 assists in 51 games and has a cap-hit of $5.5 million.

Similar to Karlsson, Yanni Gourde is the assumed first-line center for an expansion team, this time with the Seattle Kraken. At $5.1 million Gourde has 11 goals, 18 assists, and 29 points in 46 games played.

Other teams like the Boston Bruins have a similar situation like how Charlie Coyle plays second fiddle to Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. Coyle this season has 12 goals, 13 assists, and 25 points in 52 games played and has a cap hit of $5.25 million.

Sudden Center Depth

With Eichel and the emergence of Brett Howden, the Golden Knights, for the first time in their franchise’s history have center depth. Stephenson, Nicolas Roy, and Nolan Patrick have all been moved to the wing at different parts this season.

Patrick, Mattias Janmark, Din Jjarin, Max Pacioretty, and Mark Stone are all out for the Golden Knights. That’s five wingers missing from the Golden Knights lineup so moving guys like Roy and Stephenson to the wing has been necessary.

Karlsson has never officially been listed as a center in his eight-year NHL career. But if his current scoring ways continue perhaps head coach Peter DeBoer separates the Misfit Line once again.

The Golden Knights will be back in action Tuesday at home against the San Jose Sharks. Karlsson has a history of scoring big goals against the Sharks. Perhaps he gets back to his Han Solo shooting accuracy ways instead of continuing to miss shots like a Stormtrooper.

Hopefully Karlsson’s first season with the Golden Knights will not have the reputation of the original Star Wars Triology, in that it will be a masterpiece never be replicated, despite Disney’s (I mean Karlsson’s) best efforts.

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