Geek of the Week: William Karlsson’s Playoff Run Bodes Well for the Future

by Scott Maran on May 6, 2018
  • Geek of the Week
  • Geek of the Week: William Karlsson’s Playoff Run Bodes Well for the Future


William Karlsson's Playoff Run Bodes Well for the Future

The Vegas Golden Knights entered the postseason as one of the top regular season teams in the league. Finishing at 109 points in their inaugural campaign, the Knights took first place in the Pacific Division by an astounding eight points, giving them a favorable matchup against the first wildcard team. However, fans and analysts alike were unsure about how they would perform in the postseason, as the playoffs are an entirely different animal from the regular season. Vegas looked like they were somewhere in the middle in terms of talent, sandwiched between the proven giants (like Tampa and Nashville) and the not-so-great teams that managed to sneak in (like New Jersey). Similar to the uncertainty of how their regular season would go, nobody knew what to expect from Vegas come playoff time. Yet through nine games, the Knights are looking just as unbeatable as they were throughout the regular season. Many players have made key contributions to get them where they are now, including the now famous William Karlsson. His excellent play throughout the postseason is showing poolies that he might be able to keep up the scorching offensive expectations he set in the near future.

It probably doesn’t need to be discussed in great length, as William Karlsson’s regular season breakout was one of the biggest storylines in the NHL. Exposed to the Knights by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the expansion draft, Karlsson exploded for 78 points in his first season for Vegas. After looking like a career bottom-six skater in Columbus, Karlsson tallied the 23rd most points in the league. In his previous two campaigns with the Blue Jackets (totaling 162 games), he had only recorded a combined 45 points.

Karlsson’s rise to stardom was met with caution by many though, as there were too many red flags pointing towards unsustainable success. A former second-round pick, Karlsson had the offensive potential to be a solid player in the NHL when the Anaheim Ducks initially drafted him. However, where was this with the Blue Jackets? The increased role with Vegas was instrumental to Karlsson becoming a top-line player, but what about the goals? It’s hard enough for even the best snipers in the world to break 40 goals and Karlsson managed to do it after only scoring 18 in his previous 183 games. Not to mention the very important fact that Karlsson accomplished the feat with a 23.4 shooting percentage. To put that in perspective, Steven Stamkos (arguably the greatest shooter of the last decade) has a career shooting percentage of 16.7%.

Since 2005, there’s only been one instance where a player has managed to score 30+ goals and over 75 points by maintaining a shooting percentage over 20%, and that was Jason Spezza all the way back in 2007. And after shooting 21%, Spezza’s shooting percentage fell to 16.2% in the following year and dropped all the down to 13% in the year after. The concerns about Karlsson are real, as there is no feasible way he can sustain that kind of shooting talent. Even if Karlsson did become insanely good at hockey in such a quick time, he’s unlikely to get the puck luck he received this season again.

But through nine games over the postseason, William Karlsson is doing a good job of showing poolies that he can still be very productive next season. He may even be able to keep up his high rate of production, as he’s been scoring a better balance of goals and assists this postseason. According to our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, Karlsson has been the 30th most valuable skater so far (basing his value off an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits).
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Steven Stamkos

29

47

9

3

5

20

5

15

William Karlsson

30

42

9

4

5

30

2

13

Blake Wheeler

31

41

8

3

6

24

3

15


With an FHG Value of 42, Karlsson has been the 23rd most valuable forward and 30th most valuable skater. At a point-per-game average, Karlsson is actually producing slightly more offense in the postseason than in the regular season. His power-play point totals are low but he’s contributing in a lot more categories with a good plus/minus, satisfactory hit and blocked shot totals, and a lot of shots on goal.

What’s really great though is that in just a few playoff games, Karlsson is probably showing his baseline for next season. And it’s still fantastic. There’s no chance he shoots over 20% again, but right now he’s at four goals in nine games with a 13.3% shooting percentage. That comes out to a 36-goal pace over a full regular season, which is much more realistic for Karlsson next season. His increased shot rate also bodes well as it would have been near impossible for Karlsson to keep scoring at such a prolific pace without upping his shots on net. Since 2005 no player (besides Karlsson) has scored 40 goals with less than 200 shots and only four other players have scored at least 35 goals with under 200 shots. In order for Karlsson to have a good chance at replicating his offensive output, he would have needed to take a lot more shots on net. His 30 shots in nine playoff games are tied for the 19th most in the NHL and would put him on pace for 273 in a full regular season.

Besides points, Karlsson’s also showing more potential in peripherals, registering many more hits in the postseason than he did in the regular season. His 13 hits in nine games may not even crack the top 100 in the playoffs but is also a significant improvement on the 48 he posted in the regular season.

After such a great regular season, poolies should definitely take caution with William Karlsson when thinking about drafting him in hopes of him repeating his 40+ goal season (anybody remember how Tyler Johnson did after his 72 point season?). However, if this playoff run is any indication, it’s looking like William Karlsson won’t be a one-hit wonder, as his fantasy value is looking much more sustainable this postseason.