Updated June 25, 2018 - 7:42 pm
The Golden Knights took care of the clerical work Monday, extending a qualifying offer to restricted free-agent center William Karlsson.
With that task completed, the issue at hand is whether the Knights can sign their leading scorer to a long-term contract.
Karlsson’s agent, Michael Deutsch, confirmed to the Review-Journal the team’s offer. Qualifying offers are one-year deals, and the minimum the Knights could offer Karlsson was 105 percent of his $1 million salary from last season, $1.05 million.
Deutsch declined to comment on the details or value of the Knights’ offer to Karlsson. Per team policy, the Knights do not release the names of players extended qualifying offers.
The deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents was Monday.
By making an offer to Karlsson, the Knights retain negotiating rights to the 25-year-old from Sweden. Had the team not done so, Karlsson would have become an unrestricted free agent, making Monday’s move a mere formality in many ways.
Karlsson, who is coming off a 43-goal season, is not expected to sign the qualifying offer. He would be leaving millions of dollars on the table by doing so.
The likelier scenario is that Karlsson waits for a long-term contract offer from the Knights or files for arbitration by the July 5 deadline.
In the latter option, the Knights would then select a one- or two-year deal for Karlsson, and after both sides presented their case, an arbitrator would determine the salary.
Players often file for arbitration but agree to terms before their case is heard. In 2017, 30 players filed, and only Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt’s case made it to a hearing. It was the first contract awarded in arbitration since 2015.
Karlsson can also decline arbitration and continue negotiating, effectively making it a holdout. He indicated at the NHL Awards Show that he wants to remain in Las Vegas and is in a unique bargaining position following his career season.
Before joining the Knights, Karlsson produced 18 goals in 183 career NHL games with Anaheim and Columbus. But he was third in the league in goals this past season and finished in the top 10 of the voting for the Hart Trophy (MVP) and Selke Award (best defensive forward) while winning the Lady Byng Trophy as the most gentlemanly player.
Karlsson is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 and as a No. 1 center would command top dollar should he come close to replicating his 78-point outburst over the next two seasons.
For comparison’s sake, San Jose left wing Evander Kane, who has one 30-goal season, inked a seven-year, $49 million extension with the Sharks this spring.
Another possibility is that Karlsson receives an offer sheet from another club beginning late Monday. That would further complicate matters for the Knights.
The Knights would have seven days to match any offer made to Karlsson and would receive compensation in the form of draft picks if they decline.
The last time a restricted free agent was signed to an offer sheet was 2013, when Calgary gave Ryan O’Reilly a two-year, $10 million deal before he was ultimately traded to Buffalo.
Defensemen Colin Miller and Shea Theodore, who also are restricted free agents, were believed to have received qualifying offers Monday from the Knights as well.
Miller, who made $1 million last season and is arbitration-eligible, finds himself in a situation similar to Karlsson’s.
Minor league goaltender Oscar Dansk received a qualifying offer and continues to negotiate with the Knights on a new deal, his agent Peter Wallen said.
William Carrier and Tomas Nosek also are restricted free agents, and it was unclear Monday whether the Knights had made qualifying offers to the fourth-line forwards.
Knights’ developmental camp opens Tuesday
The Golden Knights open their development camp Tuesday at City National Arena.
The team will hold two practices Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. that are open to the public on a first-come, first-admitted basis. Wristbands for Tuesday’s practices will be distributed starting at 1 p.m.
The development camp runs through Saturday, with the final scrimmage closed to the public.
The roster features 42 players, including six of the eight picks from last week’s draft and all 12 selections from 2017. Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom, the team’s first-round picks a year ago, are scheduled to attend.
Forwards Reid Duke, Keegan Kolesar and Tyler Wong return after participating in last season’s development camp. Also included is defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who appeared in one game for the Knights last season.
David Schoen Review-Journal