(Photo via ESPN.com)

Las Vegas–It’s been nearly a week since the deadline has passed for those players around the league to take their case to salary arbitration and Vegas Golden Knights William Karlsson is on that list.

The biggest burning question leading into this, should Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee attempt to settle his contract dispute with his leading goal scorer before or after his upcoming arbitration hearing which is due to take place in early August?

The most logical answer for McPhee in this situation is yes because Karlsson does have a valid case and here is why that is.

Karlsson had himself the best season of his life playing on the Golden Knights top line with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.

That line put together was arguably to best top line in the league during the 2017-18 season. Karlsson himself scored 43 goals, pitched in with 35 assists for 78 points and finished out the inaugural campaign with a +49 rating.

His 43 goals put him in the top three in the NHL behind Alexander Ovechkin and Patrik Laine. So moving forward, there is some added ammunition for Karlsson to use in his upcoming arbitration hearing.

Another thing is his fellow line mates in Marchessault and Smith had a great first season with Vegas as well. Marchessault finished out with 27 goals, 48 assists for 75 points, and a +36, while Smith scored 22 goals, recorded 38 assists for 60 points, and a +31.

One more thing to take into account is that Karlsson took the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as he was the first Golden Knights player in club history to win this award.

So with that production alone by Vegas’s top line in year one of the franchise’s history and how Karlsson in particular had a breakout season, what is the best move that McPhee can make going forward, a bridge deal or a long term contract?

What Is A Bridge Deal Type Contract

The purpose of a bridge contract is for a respective franchise to use this option as a means of evaluating the player(s) production and performance well before making a commitment in both the financial sense and contract term.

For Karlsson given that this was the first time in his NHL career to put up such great numbers might be something that McPhee needs to look at from his point of view as a GM before dedicating top dollar to him.

This might be the smart move that McPhee can make with Karlsson because the relationship he has with the organization is still very young.  For both McPhee and Karlsson in this case, inking a bridge deal could be beneficial as the two continue to build a much longer relationship between one another.

Having a bridge deal, Karlsson can use this short term contract to prove himself in the NHL that he can be a consistent goal scorer before seeking a longer term with more money.

Offering him $3 to $4 million per season in a bridge deal contract is something that GMGM should consider.

Signing Long Term

This could be a risk that McPhee might not be willing to take with Karlsson at this stage in the relationship because committing too early could have its consequences.

Let’s say that McPhee does sign Karlsson to a five year deal at roughly $6 to $7 million per season and that in year three of the contract his production drops significantly that it does not warrant the money he’s owed, could create somewhat of a problem in the financial sense.

Which is why the smart play here for McPhee is to sign Karlsson to a bridge deal so that he can earn his long term contract and make him work for it.

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