Jonathan Marchessault signs six-year extension with Golden Knights

Jonathan Marchessault has gone from Florida Panthers castoff to Vegas Golden Knights leading scorer, and he has earned the richest contract of his career.

Marchessault has agreed to a six-year, $30 million extension with Vegas to avoid unrestricted free agency this summer. The forward is the leading scorer on the Golden Knights with 15 goals and 22 assists in 35 games, helping the record-setting NHL expansion franchise to the best record in the Western Conference. He had been playing on the final year of a two-year contract with an average annual salary of $750,000.

The 27-year-old Marchessault was left exposed in June's expansion draft by the Panthers, despite producing 30 goals and 21 assists for them in 2016-17, as an enticement for Vegas accepting winger Reilly Smith and his five-year, $25 million contact in a trade.

Marchessault, Smith and winger William Karlsson have formed the Knights' most productive offensive line in their 27-9-2 start, as Vegas is second in the NHL in team scoring at 3.50 goals per game. The Panthers are 19th at 2.74 goals per game.

The Knights are Marchessault's fourth NHL team, having played briefly for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012-13 before skating two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, after which he signed with the Panthers as a free agent.

The expansion Knights now have 16 players under contract for next season.