So before the season, I thought it would be fun to preview the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise. As we’ve seen the Columbus Blue Jackets grow and fight through the typical adversity one can expect with a new club, it was easy to understand some of the key parallels.
Here on Feb. 5, one team is fighting to stay in playoff contention, while the other is breezing along through their NHL tour. Yeah, the Golden Knights (35-13-4, 74 points) have taken the league, and sports world by storm.
Go figure, right Columbus?
Wild, Wild Bill
While the Knights are smashing records and now appearing to be that formidable playoff opponent, one player that is stepping up, also seemingly out of nowhere like his team, is that of former Blue Jacket forward, William Karlsson. Karlsson is setting new career-highs across the board, especially scoring, 27-and-counting goals, is one assist away from tying his high from last season (19), and has nearly doubled his point total from a year ago (25).
Karlsson’s previous high in goals was nine in 2015-16 with Columbus.
His shooting percentage is off the charts (24.5 percent), as he leads the NHL, and is over three percent better than second-place Anders Lee (21.3%), who is enjoying a renaissance himself (17.8% in 2016).
And yes. Karlsson is a nice story, along with his new club — I mean, I didn’t think the league was this easy, apparently — and sure, his offense would compliment Columbus’ lack of exactly that. Yet, I do not expect Karlsson would have the same point production in Columbus right now. Even with top-six minutes in Columbus.
I mean, who would have expected it?
It’d be like me telling you the Blue Jackets would be 29th in goals per game right now (2.52), Cam Atkinson having as many goals as All-Star Seth Jones (8), or Vegas pacing the Western Conference.
Remember the Big Picture
But, essentially dealing Karlsson to keep Jackets’ leading goal scorer Josh Anderson and potential future in goal, Joonas Korpisalo, in the fold was the obvious decision.
Aderson, you’ll recall, was signed prior to the season after a brief holdout for $1.8 million through the 2019-20 season. Bobrovsky is expected to demand quite a large payday as he will be a free agent following 2018-19. Not saying he won't be back, but who knows what will transpire between now and then.
It’s nice to have two capable goalies, and Korpisalo deserves to hit the crease a little more. For Bobrovsky’s sake, too. I do wonder how much of a raise Karlsson will get from his $2 million contract signed prior to last year. Our sister site sheds light.
Anyway, the Jackets hit Nationwide Arena for a brief stopover and date with the Washington Capitals, before both square off Friday in D.C. (I’ll be in attendance for the latter).
Full preview ahead of tomorrow’s tilt in the am.