One of the biggest stories of the offseason outside of Vegas is the stalemate between Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Auston Matthews got 73 points, 11.6 million dollar contract and he’s worth every penny
John Tavares got 88 points, 11 million dollar contract and he’s worth penny
Mitch Marner got 94 points and needs a new contract. Why won’t that dick take 9.5 million or less?
— Morgan (@Morgo_82) May 4, 2019
Marner was the 11th most productive player in the entire league last season and his stock has soared. So it appears the two sides are headed for a messy negotiation this summer in Toronto.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 1, 2019
To a smaller degree, the Golden Knights have their own Mitch Marner situation.
Like Marner, Golden Knights center William Karlsson is a restricted free agent that wants a long-term deal. Both sides seem to have an interest in getting a deal done to keep Karlsson in Vegas for the foreseeable future, but we’ve been down this path before and it ended in a one-year deal moments before arbitration.
The challenge is with where Karlsson fits in with the rest of the roster. He’s clearly not on Mark Stone’s ($9.5M) level, but is he on Max Pacioretty’s ($7M) or Paul Stastny’s ($6.5M)? Or maybe he should fit in closer to Reilly Smith ($5M), Jonathan Marchessault ($5M), or Alex Tuch ($4.75M).
Karlsson is a center though, and a damn good one at that. He finished in the top 10 in Selke voting in 2017-18 and won the Lady Byng. He backed it up with a down year offensively but carried the torch for the Golden Knights defensively until Stone arrived. So, he probably deserves more than most of the wingers on the team, but the Golden Knights may not have the money.
There in lies the problem, because like it or not, William Karlsson deserves at least $6 million, if not much more. Here’s why.
He’s a center
We’re all aware that centers make up some of the highest paid played players in the league. Currently, seven of the top ten highest paid NHL players are centers, and 19 of the top 50. Karlsson’s 2018-19 $5.25M cap hit was lower than 152 other NHL’ers, and 46 other centers. Numbers alone, Karlsson is a better player than half of the players paid higher.
Only a handful of centers scored 67 or more goals over the past two seasons and Karlsson was one of them. Most of those centers earn well above $6M a season. It’s the market price for two-way centers that log heavy minutes, handle faceoffs, averages 65+ points and receives Selke votes.
Some have devalued Karlsson after a “sub-par” 2018-19 campaign. Sure his scoring numbers dropped after his offensive explosion two seasons ago, but overall the Swede continued to produce for Vegas.