The Golden Knights took Karlsson, who had been a third-line grinder with the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons, in the expansion draft before the 2017-18 season. He went on to turn into a star for the Golden Knights, scoring 43 goals after previously never scoring more than nine, and helped lead Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final.
Golden Knights general manager George McPhee wasn't sure what he had in Karlsson come contract time, so Vegas kicked the problem down the road last season with a one-year, $5.25 million contract that narrowly avoided arbitration.
Karlsson followed up his breakout season with another solid campaign in 2018-19. He didn't equal his previous numbers but still posted 24 goals and 32 assists. Part of the decline had to do with the fact that he led the NHL with a 23.4 shooting percentage in 2017-18 and settled back to 14.2 last season. Also, after leading the league in plus-minus at plus-49 in 2017-18 he dropped to just plus-1.
Karlsson goal numbers didn't jump up, but he showed he is a top-line, two-way forward on a good team. Even with a team-friendly average annual value of $5.9 million, the deal puts the cap-strapped Golden Knights in a tight spot.
With the NHL setting the salary cap at $81.5 million, instead of the anticipated $83 million, Vegas will likely have to make some trades to get under the number.