Vegas Golden Knights William Karlsson: Fantasy Hockey 2018 Profile

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 06: William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** William Karlsson

The Vegas Golden Knights enjoyed a record-breaking inaugural season, led by William Karlsson. Karlsson notched 43 goals and 35 assists for a total of 78 points. This made him one of the biggest fantasy hockey surprises ever.

William Karlsson: Last Season’s Success

After scoring just six goals and 19 assists in 2016-17, he followed that up with a career-high 78 points last year. This is an unbelievable point increase between two seasons. Because of this huge jump, Karlsson was not even drafted in most fantasy hockey leagues last season. Whoever snatched Karlsson up once he started getting hot gained one of the best fantasy hockey players last year. Since he was not drafted, it made him even more valuable and gave his team a huge advantage in acquiring this type of player through free agency.

Last season, Karlsson finished within the top-10 forwards of most fantasy leagues.  His line-mates Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith had a big part in this. This line was one of the best in the NHL, which created many scoring opportunities for Karlsson. His line-mates also enjoyed career years playing alongside the high-scoring center.

Is it Sustainable?

It is very difficult for any player to follow up on a season like Karlsson had. Nobody expects Karlsson to be even more productive than he was last season, however, if Karlsson can continue to find chemistry with his line-mates, it makes him a very intriguing player in the beginning to middle rounds. Everything will need to go perfectly like it did last year for Karlsson, and the Golden Knights, to come close to the season they had one year ago.

Karlsson’s shooting percentage last season was 23.4 percent. During his three years in Columbus, his shooting percentage was a mere 7.7 percent. His shots were going in the net at nearly triple the rate they were in the past three seasons. This tends to indicate that there will be some regression. However, Karlsson was taking 1.27 shots per game in his three years with the Blue Jackets and took 2.24 shots per game last year. This increase also shows that he was part of generating more offensive chances than he did with his former club, and suggests that even if there will be some regression in his shooting percentage, he should still score much more often than he did with the Jackets.

In other words, don’t expect another 40-goal season out of William Karlsson, but don’t expect him to revert to the single digit totals of years past either.  Where exactly he falls in between those two extremes is the risk that his fantasy owner will take this year.

Risky Business

There is a big risk associated with drafting William Karlsson.  We still do not really know what kind of a player he is. Like many of the Golden Knights players who had breakout seasons this past year, his season could just be a fluke and he could go back to the player he was before being cast off his prior club. In Karlsson, you are either getting the breakout star we saw last season or the lowly player he was with the Blue Jackets – there is no in between.  This is what makes him such a risky player to draft.

Draft Ranking Analysis

Yahoo Fantasy has William Karlsson ranked 62nd on their list. Yes, this is low for one of the top fantasy producers last season. The reason he is ranked so low is due to the fact that Yahoo Rankings incorporate a players average production over the last three years if available. Karlsson’s breakout year has brought him much higher, but his previous two season bring the ranking back down.

Drafting Karlsson in the top 50 is very risky.  Drafting him this high means you could be  passing up on players like Drew Doughty, Jakub Voracek and other bona fide stars for a player who had one good season. But there is no doubt that Karlsson should be drafted in the top 80. If the Golden Knights can even come close to the successful season they had last year, Karlsson will be at the forefront of their offence once again. However, if they come back down to earth and be the team they were projected to be, Karlsson’s production will surely suffer a big hit.

Overall Consensus

Many people have mixed feelings about where or even if Karlsson should be drafted this season. William Karlsson is your typical high risk, high reward pick. A player like this has the ability to give you some value with his fantasy ranking but could also be a dud like he was in past seasons before joining the Golden Knights. The riskiness and uncertainty of this player makes him very intriguing. Drafting a player like Karlsson could make or break your fantasy season.

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