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Golden Knights, William Karlsson agree to 8-year extension

Updated June 24, 2019 - 11:50 am

Center William Karlsson has been clear about his desire to remain with the Golden Knights long term.

He will get his wish after agreeing to a new eight-year contract worth $47.2 million.

The restricted free agent’s deal will keep him in Las Vegas through 2026-27. A source familiar with the negotiations confirmed the terms of the pact Sunday after it was first reported by The Sports Network in Canada and The Athletic.

A representative said the team was aware of the reports, but could neither confirm nor comment.

Eight years is the maximum term allowable under the collective bargaining agreement for a player re-signing with his team.

The length of the contract gives Karlsson the security he was seeking in exchange for accepting an average annual value of $5.9 million that may be less than market value for the cap-strapped Knights.

Karlsson had 24 goals and 56 points last season while playing on a one-year deal for $5.25 million that was agreed to last summer to avoid arbitration.

“(It would be) nice to just have a long-term deal just to not have to deal with these kinds of questions after every year,” Karlsson said after the season ended in April with a first-round playoff series loss to the San Jose Sharks. “I mean, this is where I want to be. Ever since I got here, I’ve been very happy, both on and off the ice. I see this team has a great chance of winning in the future. This is definitely where I want to be and be a part of.”

Incoming general manager Kelly McCrimmon said locking up Karlsson was among the team’s top offseason priorities.

“Every team has work that they have to do,” he said Saturday at the NHL draft in Vancouver, British Columbia. “We’re no different. William is a priority for us, and we’re hopeful that sooner rather than later we can have him under contract past this year.”

Karlsson had a breakout campaign in the team’s inaugural season, with 43 goals and 78 points and a plus-49 rating for the Stanley Cup finalists.

A native of Sweden, Karlsson also has proved his worth defensively, finishing sixth in voting for last year’s Selke Trophy. He was 17th on this year’s ballot for the award that goes to the league’s top defensive forward.

Karlsson’s durability also has been an asset as he is the only player to have appeared in every game — regular season and postseason — in franchise history.

His two strong seasons came on the heels of two relatively quiet seasons in Columbus where he totaled 15 goals and 45 points in 162 games over his first two full NHL seasons before being left exposed and selected by the Knights in the expansion draft.

General manager George McPhee said in April the team having another year of familiarity with Karlsson would be helpful in the process of negotiating a new deal.

“We just have more data to work with,” McPhee said. “We’re pretty clear on what kind of player he is, and I believe he is as well. We’ll get to work on it shortly, and hopefully get it wrapped up.”

When the deal is completed it will give the Knights six players signed through at least the 2023-24 season. Forward Mark Stone is also signed through 2026-27, and Alex Tuch’s contract goes through 2025-26. Defensemen Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore have deals that cover the next six seasons, and forward Jonathan Marchessault has five years remaining on his contract.

Marchessault is excited to have his linemate of the last two seasons along for the long haul.

“You being here for a long time makes me happy like these pics,” he posted Sunday on Instagram along with a series of photos of them together over the last two years.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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