The 2021-22 NHL season is fast approaching, and with it, several players will be chasing personal milestones. One of those players is Los Angeles Kings superstar Anze Kopitar. After hitting the 1000-point mark last season, he will be looking to climb the leaderboards for both the Kings and the league.
Cementing Himself as a Kings Legend
If Kopitar retired tomorrow, most people would have him down as one of the all-time greatest Kings ever; he would certainly feature on most people’s Mt. Rushmore of Kings legends. So while he doesn’t need any help becoming a legend for the franchise, some of the milestones he can hit this season will help cement his legacy.
Surpassing The Great One
The easiest milestone for him to hit will be taking over Gretzky’s place with the second-most assists in Kings history. Kopitar needs just 18 assists to catch Gretzky; considering his production over his career, he should surpass this mark by Christmas. Any time you pass Gretzky in any category, it’s a special moment.
This will solidify Kopitar as one of the best playmakers LA has ever seen. After jumping into the number two spot, he will have a long climb up to number one, where Marcel Dionne sits with 757 assists. He needs 104 assists to take sole possession of the number one spot for the Kings — averaging 48 assists per 82 games, Kopitar should take this spot in roughly two full seasons. It’s a testament to how incredible he’s been for LA that in just a few seasons, no player will have registered more assists in a Kings jersey than the Slovenian.
Pushing Taylor Out of the Top 3
The other Kings milestone that he can hit this season is taking over Taylor for third all-time in points. With 1000 points total, Kopitar is just 69 behind Taylor. Going back to his 82-game averages, Kopitar posts about 73 points per 82 games, meaning we should see him surpass Taylor near the end of this season. Jumping Taylor for the number three spot will put Kopitar roughly 82 points away from Luc Robitaille at second place, meaning it won’t be long until we see Kopitar take up the number two spot. Taking the number one spot from Dionne will be difficult, but not impossible. He needs 307 points to catch Dionne — at his current 82-game pace, it should take him just over four seasons to climb all the way up the ranks. Hopefully, a healthy and productive season from Kopitar will allow fans to see their captain continue his rise through the franchise’s leaderboards.
Kopitar Is One of Europe’s Greatest Players
Another list Kopitar will be climbing this season is points by European players. Currently sitting 17th all-time for points by a European player, he can make some huge leaps amongst this leaderboard in 2021-22. If he can score at his career average pace, he’ll jump all the way to 12th overall on this list, surpassing NHL greats Patrik Elias, Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Mogilny, and the Sedin Twins.
As Slovenia’s best-ever player, Kopitar will be looking to put himself in the category of Europe’s best-ever players. With newcomer Phillip Danault allowing Kopitar more offensive freedom, we might see a huge year of production from the Kings captain. So, we could see him easily surpass the players I’ve just listed and join Evgeni Malkin as the two active players looking to break into the top 10 for points by European players.
Continuing His Legacy
The 2021-22 season should be one that sees Kopitar solidify his legacy as one of the Kings and Europe’s greatest all-time players. He’s at the point now where fans should expect to celebrate a few achievements of his every season. This season, we should see him climb the Kings’ assists and points leaderboards while climbing the European players leaderboard. There’s still plenty of hockey left in the 34-year-old center, and an improved Kings roster should enable him to reach these milestones with comfort.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.