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Catching Up With William Karlsson

It's been hard to catch him on the ice, so might as well catch him here

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

He's 24 and having the season of his career. He lives in Vegas, loves his teammates and has great hair.

He's William Karlsson and life couldn't be much better right now.

Karlsson has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points and has now tied his career high in goals after just 19 games. He's nine points away from equaling his career best with more than three quarters of the season still ahead of him.

Karlsson has five goals and six points in his last four games. Everything he shoots is going in.

The offense is great but it doesn't come at the expense of the rest of his game. First and foremost Karlsson is a responsible player. Spending the last few seasons in Columbus under the watchful eye of John Tortorella, Karlsson developed a 200-foot game which is now second nature. He's a strong skater and he thinks the game well. All that was missing from his game was opportunity. Now skating on a line with Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, Karlsson is averaging 17:56 of ice-time per game. His previous career average was under 14 minutes per game.

Video: Karlsson's nine goals in 13 games match career high

 

He's also getting regular power play and penalty kill time. He's the top center in Vegas's lineup right now and he's a pending restricted free agent currently earning $1,000,000. He's in for a raise.

Karlsson sat down with VegasGoldenKnights.com this week after a practice.

VGK.com: Everything seems to be going in, is this the most fun you've ever had playing hockey?
WK: For sure. It's been a great start. I'm having a lot of fun and the puck seems to bounce my way right now.

VGK.com: Shane Hnidy, our color commentator on the television side, he said to me, "I've seen Karlsson play with really good wingers at the World Championships with Team Sweden. If they put him with the right people, this player can produce." So now you're playing with Marchessault and Smith and they're both very talented guys. Has that been a big factor for you?

WK: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean they're helping me out a lot. Two guys that are fast, skilled, and think hockey the way I think hockey. So yeah, they've done a tremendous job helping me out and hopefully they like playing with me too.

VGK.com: What went through your mind when you found out you were leaving Columbus and coming to Vegas?

WK: It was mixed feelings. I kind of figured I was going but at the same time, you didn't know really. But it was sad to leave the team. I obviously had a lot of good friends there, but at the same time, I was excited about this chance that I was going to get here. So for sure, mixed feelings.

 

Video: LAK@VGK: Karlsson goes five-hole with early wrister

 

VGK.com: So when you come from another country, from Sweden to the NHL, there's people around and you figure out, I don't know how big the Swedish community was in Columbus, but what's it like being a Swede in Vegas?

WK: It's been good. I mean I have (Oscar) Dansk and (Oscar) Lindberg and (Pierre-Edouard Bellemare as well because he speaks Swedish too. When you don't know anyone, it's nice to have someone who speaks Swedish too and can lean back on. But the guys have been great and they were really easy to get to know. For me as a Swede, all I have to do is keep speaking English and I think I'm doing pretty well by now. So it's been pretty easy.

VGK.com: Is there anything in Vegas that is culturally, like is there a Swedish restaurant?

WK: I have no idea but if you find out, let me know.

VGK.com: What kind of foods would you get if there was a Swedish restaurant here?

WK: I don't know, there's this one dish that we have back home in Sweden. It's kind of like sausage in some sauce and then you serve it with rice. Maybe that doesn't sound that delicious but there's obviously other stuff in it, like a stew almost. That would be nice to have actually.

VGK.com: If you get homesick, do you go to IKEA?

WK: Yeah, I actually went there with Dansk not too long ago and we had some meatballs there with mashed potatoes and some gravy. That was a little bit of Sweden, and it's good to be home.

 

Video: LAK@VGK: Karlsson sweeps in feed from Smith

 

VGK.com: I noticed you have a little bracelet here, what's that for?

WK: This is a bracelet that says AIK, it's for a club back home in Sweden. A soccer team and they have a hockey team as well. So kind of supporting my favorite team since growing up.

VGK.com: Soccer, tennis, skiing, what else is big in Sweden in terms of sports?

WK: Well soccer is definitely the biggest, for sure. And recently Sweden qualified for the World Cup, so everyone was very excited about that back home. And then I'd say hockey is number two. Skiing is also very big. Tennis is not so big now. It used to be since we had all those great tennis players like Björn Borg and all the other guys. But skiing, hockey and soccer seem to be the top three.

VGK.com: When you talk about your game, when you think about your game, what is your best quality as a player?

WK: I try to play a two-way game out there. Try to score goals and produce offensively but at the same time try to take my responsibility defensively as well. So it's what I like to bring every game.

 

Video: VGK@VAN: Karlsson roofs a shot from in front

 

VGK.com: We get to see you after every game and I know that you really like to win. When you think about what you guys have accomplished in this short amount of time and how many games you have won, is that surprising and how much fun has it been to keep winning?

WK: I don't know if it is surprising. I mean if you take a look at the roster, I mean it's a pretty good team. We have four lines that have been really good. I think all four lines can score too. Defensively it's been real solid. Obviously we have had great goaltending so far. We had Fleury at the start, we went all the way back to Ferguson and I think they've all been great. So I don't know if it's so surprising, for us at least. Maybe not for the experts. And I mean it's been a fun ride so far. I've had a lot of fun. It's a great group here and I think we're all enjoying ourselves, especially here at home. It's been fantastic and I think our record shows.

VGK.com: What do you like to do on an off day?

WK: I have friends in town right now so I try to see if we can do something for them. But when I'm alone I like to relax, you know. After practice, maybe go home and play some video games or something. Nothing too crazy.

VGK.com: Favorite car?

WK: I've always dreamt of an Aston Martin, that would be cool.

VGK.com: What kind of music do you like?

WK: I like a lot. I like rock, you know, from the 80's and stuff like that. I like those pop 80's, I like them too. I like EDM. Not so much a fan of the rap. I'm trying to get into it because I want to adjust but not so much yet. But I'm trying to.

 

Video: WPG@VGK: Karlsson deposits rebound to pad lead

 

VGK.com: When you think about everything that goes into hockey and life in North America, it's a huge adjustment to leave Sweden and come here. Has this been a good thing for you? Obviously playing in the NHL is pretty fantastic, but it's a whole lifestyle thing also.

WK: Yeah, just everything about taking care of yourself. Definitely was a lot of changes going from Sweden to here especially the first year. Just everything outside hockey. But you learn and you adjust and I think I know my way around here. It's my fourth year so I feel pretty comfortable now. But for sure, it's a big change coming from Sweden.

VGK.com: Better hair, Karlsson or Erik Haula?

WK: Karlsson.

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