Happy Vegas Golden Knights Birthday, William Karlsson!
The Vegas Golden Knights are positioned very well to have a successful 2020-21 NHL season.
Sure, they still have that tiny issue of getting cap compliant before kicking off the season on January 14th against the Anaheim Ducks – with roughly $1.26 million still needing to be shed according to Spotrac – but that will happen one way or another. No, with Vegas suddenly among the odds-on favorites to win a new Western Division devoid of the tricky Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks – though with the additions of the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild – the Golden Knights look forward to a bounce-back season after having their first-ever coaching change in their franchise’s storied three-year history.
And do you know who is absolutely vital to the Golden Knights’ bright, bright future? That’d be none other than Sweedish center William Karlsson, who just so happens to be celebrating his 28th birthday today!
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For those who are out of the loop, the Golden Knights agreed to select Karlsson in the 2017 NHL Expansion draft from the Columbus Blue Jackets over players like Josh Anderson, Joonas Korpisalo, and Jack Johnson in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick, and the contract of injured forward David Clarkson. Karlsson promptly took his willing expulsion from The Arch City in strides by scoring 43(!) goals and 35 assists as the focal point of Gerard Gallant‘s offense while pushing his team to the Stanley Cup finals.
Granted, the team regressed in wins and success in each passing season under Gallant – with the team going so far as to replace him with Peter DeBoer 49 games into the 2019-20 season – but they’ve still maintained a perfect track record of making the playoffs in each of their first three seasons of existence – a streak that should extend to four without much trouble.
In Karlsson, Vegas has a fantastic playmaker who can pick up goals and goals in bunches. While he (probably) won’t return to the 40 goal club again in 2020-21, in large part because the season only features 56 regular-season games, he’ll surely hit 30-plus assists again with ease – a feat he’s accomplished in each of his three professional seasons in Vince Vaugh and Jon Favreau’s favorite city.
What fans of the Golden Knights can also expect in this weird, weird forthcoming season is even more wacky media interactions, Instagram mastery, and love of both the TV show Friends and the Disney animated film that definitely isn’t based on Kimba the White Lion, The Lion King.
Is there a player more well-loved in Las Vegas than Karlsson? Has a player more perfectly personified an expansion franchise than the now-28-year-old who went from a fringe third-liner to a franchise cornerstone?
No matter how you slice it, William Karlsson is the guy in Vegas.
So William Karlsson, from all of us here at Puck Prose, have a wonderful 28th birthday. I hope you get to spend it with your teammates, your very handsome dog, your young family. Heck, maybe you’ll even get a chance to watch the 2019 ‘live-action’ iteration of The Lion King, which, funny enough, is directed by Jon Favreau. Huh, Vegas Baby indeed.