LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson couldn't imagine playing anywhere else, which is why he signed an eight-year, $47.2 million contract ($5.9 million average annual value) with the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
"Just to be able to call it my home, to know I'm not going anywhere any time soon," Karlsson said. "I love to live in Las Vegas. I think it's a great town. It's the most fun place to play in, T-Mobile [Arena]. You all live here so you know how it is. It's awesome, and I'm very happy to stay here."
The 26-year-old forward, who could have become a restricted free agent July 1, had 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 82 regular-season games this season with Vegas and five points (two goals, three assists) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
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Karlsson avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $5.25 million contract as a restricted free agent on Aug. 4, 2018, and said there was concern of possibly being traded or settling for another one-year contract if something long-term didn't materialize.
"You always have that in the back of your head," Karlsson said. "I think from the start of negotiations it was a good talk right away. They wanted long-term, I wanted long-term. It didn't take too long to get something done."
Selected by the Golden Knights from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, Karlsson had NHL career highs in goals (43), assists (35) and points (78) in 2017-18, and had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 20 playoff games to help Vegas advance to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
He won the Lady Byng Trophy in 2018, voted as the NHL player who exhibited the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.
"I think going into every season, it's time to prove yourself," Karlsson said. "Because everything is history, really. You go into a new season and you want to be good. You want to prove to yourself and everyone else that you can still compete at this level, be a good player. Looking back, that's just history. Looking forward, that's all you can do, to prove to yourself and everyone else that you've still got it."
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Although Karlsson's offensive numbers dipped this season, he was still effective defensively. Karlsson was one of five players in the NHL to score at least 20 goals, block 50 shots and have 70 takeaways, joining Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets, Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, and Vegas teammate Mark Stone.
As a result, Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee said it was important to keep Karlsson as part of their core that, he feels, can contend for the Stanley Cup.
Karlsson's linemates Jonathan Marchessault (signed through 2023-24) and Reilly Smith (through 2021-22) are also signed long-term, as is Vegas' top line of Stone (2026-27), Max Pacioretty (2022-23) and Paul Stastny (2020-21).
"We've got a good group," McPhee said. "We'll work around the edges a little bit, but for the most part, we're going to keep this group that's done so well here together. They're at the right ages. We don't have any bad contracts on the books now, and we hope we don't have that issue in the future."
Karlsson is confident Vegas has the pieces in place to make another deep playoff run.
"I want to win the Cup with this group," he said. "That's the ultimate goal. I look at our team and I think it looks really good. I think we have every ingredient to win."