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Marchessault's agent says plenty of contract talks with Vegas, likely no decision until season ends

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jonathan Marchessault picked an especially good time to put together the best season of his 11-year career.

He is in the final season of a six-year, $30 million contract in Vegas, giving the Golden Knights a major decision to make after the season. Marchessault has scored a career-high 38 goals, just five off the Knights' single-season record.

Marchessault's agent, Pat Brisson, told The Associated Press there have been a handful of conversations with Knights management, but he didn't expect anything to happen until after the season. If Vegas doesn't extend the 33-year-old Marchessault, he would be one of the more attractive free agents on the market when free agency begins July 1.

He entered the season after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, which goes to the playoffs MVP, in leading Vegas to its first Stanley Cup championship.

“He's OK waiting,” Brisson said. "Of course, you would rather have a deal done. Sometimes the reason you don't have a deal done is because you're not there yet. He's been in Vegas ever since its inception seven years ago. He likes it there, been producing, won the Cup last year, won the Conn Smythe.

“He's having a hell of a season this year. His production is not going down.”

Marchessault was not available for comment.

Brisson wouldn't discuss what kind of terms he and Marchessault are seeking, and Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon wouldn't get into specifics, either.

“At this point in the regular season, we are all working to help our club qualify for the playoffs," McCrimmon said in a statement to the AP. "The status of player contracts is not something we’ll comment on, as we continue to keep our focus on the ice.”

The Knights are trying to hold on to the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. They are four points ahead of St. Louis.

Marchessault previously reached a high of 30 goals twice, most recently two years ago. Last season, he had 28.

So he's long been a quality goal scorer, but not at this level. Coach Bruce Cassidy pointed to a number of reasons as why Marchessault is scoring at an even higher rate, such as he's been healthy and his shot has been notably accurate.

“He's not missing," Cassidy said. "He seems to get it off and it's on net. He's not whiffing on chances very often. He's putting himself in good spots consistently. I think from year to year, maybe the puck finds him more than other years. Goal scorers will probably tell you that.

“Other than that, I don't have a great explanation. It could be that he got confidence from last year's playoffs, and he's built off that. He had a great run, scoring all the time.”

Marchessault turned it up a notch in the playoffs last season with a team-leading 13 goals as well as 25 points, which was second.

He also has reached 60 points for second time in three years and third overall.

He has three hat tricks this season, and is chasing fellow original Knight William Karlsson's record of 43 goals set in the club's first season in 2017-18.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Karlsson said of his record-breaking season. “(Marchessault) just always seems to be there. It's hard to explain.”

Marchessault is one of five members of the first Knights team, the self-dubbed Golden Misfits. There were six members on last year's Cup team, but Reilly Smith was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the offseason to free up salary cap room.

What will happen to Marchessault remains to be seen. He became the first player in club history to play 500 games and also tops the Knights in goals (188), assists (220) and points (408).

“Vegas has been a great place for him,” Brisson said. “It's been such a mutually beneficial relationship from the beginning. His first wish is to definitely work something out with the Golden Knights.”

The Knights have shown they're not afraid to move on from popular players, most notably trading fan favorite Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago three years ago.

“We're not concerned,” Brisson said. “It's a business at the end of the day. We have to look at this way, and we do understand how sometimes these things would go, but we also believe players (who) keep producing, keeping doing well, good things will happen. Hopefully, it will be with the Golden Knights at one point between now and July 1.”

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL