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Karlsson determined to prove worth to Golden Knights

Center 'betting on myself,' aims to earn long-term contract after signing one-year deal

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- William Karlsson said he settled for a short-term contract with the Vegas Golden Knights because he believes in William Karlsson.


[RELATED: Golden Knights sign Stastny, aim to build off historic inaugural season]


"It's me betting on myself a little," the 25-year-old center said Thursday during the NHL European Player Media Tour. "It would be great with a long term, but we couldn't agree on that. Both sides wanted it long term but it couldn't work out.

"I believe I can have another productive year, show that last season was no fluke and earn something long term."

Karlsson and the Golden Knights avoided arbitration when the restricted free agent signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract Aug. 4. He set NHL career highs in goals (43), assists (35) and points (78) last season to help Vegas win the Pacific Division and reach the Stanley Cup Final, which it lost to the Washington Capitals. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.

It was a dream season for Karlsson, who could again become an RFA on July 1, 2019. Prior to being selected from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, he had 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists) in 183 NHL games.

Video: William Karlsson signs one-year extension with Vegas

His goal is to remain with the Golden Knights for a long time.

"I fell in love with the city, the organization, everything last year," Karlsson said. "This is definitely where I want to stay and keep going.

"For a first-year expansion team it's pretty crazy, isn't it? No one could have predicted the success we had. Not you, not myself, no one. We just had a lot of guys who had chips on their shoulders and were out to prove something.

"It's amazing what a bit of confidence can do for you."

Karlsson said he didn't have much of that in Columbus, where he had 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 165 games from 2015-17. He had three points in 18 games for the Anaheim Ducks as a rookie in 2014-15.

"I'm not sure what happened in Columbus, but when your confidence is down it affects you," Karlsson said. "All I wanted is a chance to show what I can do. Vegas let me do that. It let a lot of guys do that.

"When I got put with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, things just started clicking."

Vegas' top line of Karlsson (43), Smith (22) and Marchessault (27) combined for 92 goals. In the process, they and their teammates went from relative anonymity to celebrities.

"It's amazing," Karlsson said. "At the beginning, hardly anyone knew us. But by the end of the season, about the only place in Vegas we weren't recognized was the actual Strip because of all the tourists there."

Karlsson recalled one incident when his long hair was instantly picked out at a restaurant in Boulder City, 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

"It's the last place you'd figure someone would know you, yet everyone did," he said. "They bought me breakfast, they shook my hand, it was amazing.

"It's another example of why Vegas is so special. And it's my goal to prove on the ice that I belong to stay there long term."

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