The Stanley Cup has been awarded, the draft is less than a week away, free agency less than two, and the first buyout window of the summer has opened up. It is officially trade season in the National Hockey League and the period of time where general managers make some of the boldest moves.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, they currently sit up against the salary cap with a roster that failed to even make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2022. They have a lot of decisions to make this offseason such as what they will end up doing with Nicolas Hague and Reilly Smith, while also fixing the goaltending.
But the biggest question and area of need for the Golden Knights is easily cap space as they have 14 pending free agents in total to sign with Smith, who has not been officially signed, included.
As a result, the VGK could be poised to make yet another big trade this offseason for salary cap purposes. I think we should look no further than original Golden Knight William Karlsson as a trade suspect as his cap hit no longer matches his production value on the ice.
William Karlsson Trade Rumors
So far this offseason, there have been no rumors surrounding the Golden Knights in talks regarding Karlsson. However, from a logistical standpoint, he seems like the next Golden Knight out the door if general manager Kelly McCrimmon cannot find a way to work with the cap space he currently has.
Karlsson still has five years left on the eight-year deal he signed with previous general manager George McPhee after the 2017-18 season. This pays him $5.9 million against the salary cap and also has a modified no-trade clause, something that haunts the Golden Knights at bedtime.
In 2021-22 he put up 12 goals, 23 assists, and 35 points in 67 games, a far cry from his inaugural season self which leads me to our next discussion topic.
A Steady Decline
In his five years with the Golden Knights, Karlsson has continuously scored fewer points in every season that he has been with the team. After an amazing likely career year in 2017-18 where Bill scored 43 goals and 78 points, his point totals have dropped year by year from 78 to 56, 46, 39, and now to 36.
He is still a valuable player to the Golden Knights when it comes to the penalty kill. And he also has tremendous chemistry on the Misfit Line with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. But there is no question his value to the team has shrunk with each passing season as he went from a superstar first-line center to a third-line player.
It doesn’t help that his role on the team has been diminished with guys like Chandler Stephenson, Nicolas Roy, and Jack Eichel being brought in to replace him and eat up some of his ice time as well. This has drastically lowered Karlsson’s confidence levels as he now plays as a shell of his former self.
Move Him While You Can
If Karlsson’s value continues to drop after each and every season, then the Golden Knights need to trade Wild Bill while they still have a chance. If he continues to crash and burn in terms of production, then the Golden Knights will have a bad contract down the road, if they don’t have one already.
Finding a buyer for Karlsson will also be hard, again, as his value has greatly decreased. But I could see him going to a rebuilding team where he can get more ice time and try and re-establish himself in the NHL. How fitting would it be if he went to yet another team in the Seattle Kraken?
I know Karlsson is a fan favorite and a hilarious guy. But his production on the ice has simply not been there. But the Golden Knights are in a cap dilemma and it might result in Karlsson being moved.
Thankfully, for the first time in forever the VGK have the center depth to replace him with Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, Nicolas Roy (who needs a new contract), Brett Howden, and others.