It’s official: star center Anze Kopitar’s eight-year contract extension is signed, sealed and delivered.
It may have been a foregone conclusion that Kopitar would re-up with the Kings, but the process was hardly simple. Los Angeles — as is typical for a franchise in the middle of a multi-year run of icing championship-caliber teams — is up against the league’s salary cap. For 2015-16, it stands at $71.4 million, and although next season’s figure hasn’t been released, speculation is that it will approach $75 million.
Anze Kopitar’s value to Los Angeles
With his deal safely in the bank, it’s time to take a step back and look at the value he brings to the team, courtesy of five great plays he has made during his tenure in Los Angeles. These plays not only prove his intrinsic value, but exemplify just how much he means to the team — and why, despite the hefty price tag that comes with locking him up for the remainder of his career, fans are breathing a sigh of relief tonight.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five great plays that show just how much value Kopitar brings to the Kings.
#5: Kopitar shows incredible hands in the shootout
Three-on-three overtime has (thankfully) reduced the number of games concluded by shootout. After having 170 games finish that way in 2014-15, the league is on a pace for just over 100 this year.
That said, the skills he showed in the clip below are almost otherwordly:
#4: Kopitar creates the easiest goal of Tyler Toffoli’s career
We all know that a 2-on-1 rush frequently results in a goal. When it happens, it usually comes from a short-side shot, a one-timer that eludes the sprawling goaltender, or a quick snap shot.
But a tap in? Watch how perfectly Kopitar plays this one:
Even Nelson Emerson wouldn’t have missed that shot.
#3: Slithering behind Brian Elliott for a goal during the 2012 Conference semifinals
A serious question: can you contort your body while standing quietly in your home like Kopitar did in motion against Brian Elliott? This is the same Elliott, by the way, who combined with Jaroslav Halák to win the William M. Jennings Trophy that same year.
By the way, the Kings were shorthanded at the time, illustrating yet another value proposition he brings to the table: excellent defense.
That’s just ridiculous.
#2: A slick game-winner against the Devils in the 2012 Final
Elite players are at their best on the biggest of stages. Fair or unfair, it’s one of the unofficial measurements of greatness in sports.
Kopitar showed good wheels here while closing in on Brodeur, especially for a player of his size (6 foot 3, 224 pounds). Check out how silly he made one of the game’s greatest goalies look.
Brodeur was practically doing the breaststroke as the puck went into the net.
#1: “Bropitar” combines for a truly unbelievable play
Although Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have been on the ice together for tons of goals during their overlapping time with the Kings, some fans have complained they never really had chemistry together.
If this clip doesn’t prove otherwise, nothing will.
Other than the playoffs, this is my favorite Kopitar play. He’s done a few other ally oop passes worthy of mention, but this one is absolutely perfect. Kudos to Brown for corralling it nicely and scoring the goal.
There are dozens of other plays I could have cited that would have further driven the point home, but I think it’s been made. The price tag may not have been cheap, but in terms of value, Anze Kopitar earns every penny of what he’s paid by the Los Angeles Kings.
Walter McLaughlin is a Los Angeles Kings correspondent for The Hockey Writers. He is an avid sports fan, having followed the Kings since living in L.A. in the mid-1970’s, as well as suffering through Seattle sports teams’ general futility. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and has worked in community banking for over 25 years, specializing in SBA loans. He is married and has two daughters.