William Karlsson was having a good year. I mean, he was "suddenly getting picked up on fantasy waivers" good this season. The Swedish superstar had 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games, reminding Golden Knights fans of his first year in Vegas. Who could forget when Wild Bill scored 43 goals and had 35 assists in 2017-2018?
Then, something bad happened. Stop me if you heard this before: a lower-body injury struck a Golden Knight. Sadly, it happened to be William Karlsson. The next thing you know, he's being placed on injury reserve and is downgraded to being week-to-week. It's like the hockey gods are toying with Vegas hockey fans with all these injuries.
Luckily, there is a good reason for Golden Knights fans to not lose too much sleep over this. With a solid strategy and the right line combinations, the Knights can lessen the blow. But before you think I'm dismissing Karlsson's talents, know that the center was on pace for 32 goals before the injury struck.
What can Bruce Cassidy do to ensure Vegas is in good hands while Wild Bill's gone? Here are a few things the Golden Knights can do to ensure everything's good while he heals.
1. Tap Into That Scoring Depth
This is a no-brainer since it's a major component of the Knights winning the Stanley Cup last year. It's how they eliminated Edmonton. It's how they beat the Dallas Stars. It's how they blew the doors off the Florida Panthers.
It's no secret that the Golden Knights have plenty of goal-scorers. When you have players on your fourth line scoring double-digit goals, it's a sign of a deep team offensively. After all, players like Michael Amadio (16 goals in 2022-2023) and Nicolas Roy (14 goals, 16 assists in 2022-2023) have contributed a lot.
Right now, that's needed more than ever. With the Golden Knights suffering injuries in other places, they'll need all hands on deck. Whether it's Amadio on the fourth line or a returning Keegan Kolesar, the Knights must stick to their offensive strength.
2. The Ol' Switcheroo
Fortunately, Bruce Cassidy isn't afraid to tinker with his lineups for maximum efficiency. If something's not working, he'll make adjustments. That should help Vegas with their current situation, putting in the right pieces to weather the storm.
That means players like Jonathan Marchessault will get opportunities in different parts of the lineup. Now the Conn Smythe winner can create a three-headed monster with Mark Stone and Jack Eichel on the top line. Imagine what other combinations Cassidy has in store for opponents.
Such line combinations will come in handy given the upcoming gauntlet for the Golden Knights. Vegas's next five games are against teams in playoff spots, starting with Colorado. If Cassidy wants to exploit a particular matchup, he has no problem doing so here. That'll be key to holding serve against tough competition.
3. A Little Something Special
It's also no secret that the Golden Knights power play has been average, at best. After all, it causes a collective groan for every Vegas hockey fan on Twitter (or X, whatever you want to call it). It's been one aspect of the Knights's special teams that has stuck out like a sore thumb.
Currently, the unit's 14th in the NHL in power play percentage at 21.8. While that's not a bad mark, it pales in comparison to the NHL leader, the New York Rangers (30%). Improving this aspect can help ease the pain of losing the Swedish center.
William Karlsson was well-known for being a vital asset in the Golden Knights' power play. He could set up the play and had incredible timing to take a shot. That's why he has four power play goals and seven power play assists this season.
Now with lesser-known guys like Pavel Dorofeyev taking on more responsibilities, they'll need to use their offensive skill sets on the power play, too. As mentioned earlier, an all-hands-on-deck effort is greatly needed with Karlsson gone. But that's especially true with one of the main power play guys being out for a while.
It's not just the power play, though. Vegas will need a stronger penalty kill in Karlsson's absence. Here, the Knights have also been middle-of-the-pack, ranking 14th in the NHL at 80.5%. Better situational awareness and avoiding penalties altogether will go a long way in softening the blow.
(Stats provided by StatMuse)