The Los Angeles Kings announced they have given their captain Anze Kopitar a two-year extension worth $7 million per season that will kick in July 1, 2024. Locking in an important piece of their team until the end of the 2025-26 season, the Kings have given their leader a chance to continue to help bring this group deep into the playoffs.
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In his 17-year career, all with the Kings, he has won the Selke Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy twice, as well as a Mark Messier Leadership Award. He is one of the best two-way centers of his generation and has accumulated a great number of points. At 35 years old he has shown little to no signs of regression. His point totals started to drop after the 2017-18 season, but he has been consistently good for 60 or more points every year since, outside of the 56-game season.
Kopitar’s eight-year deal was set to expire next summer and it was a clear priority to the team to keep him around. General manager Rob Blake described Kopitar as “…the heart and soul of this team as the captain, and will play an important role with this club”. As the Kings continue to add high-quality pieces to their lineup, the goal for the team and Kopitar is to get another good run at the Stanley Cup.
There was never any doubt that Kopitar would sign what could be his last contract in the NHL with the Kings. He has been a staple of the organization since being drafted in 2005.
Kopitar’s Role Moving Forward
As of today, there is no question that Kopitar is the top center for the Kings. The acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois was to give the team a strong one-two punch down the middle, not to take over his job. He will continue to be the Kings’ top option until he starts to regress – if that ever happens.
With a cap hit of $10 million for this year and $7 million for the two following years, taking him to 38 years old, the Kings can expect to see an elite defensive impact for every year he has under contract. That isn’t going away. Those metrics alone are worth that money for the level he plays at. The offense is bound to drop off at some point, but he is coming off of a 74-point season, his highest over the last five years. This contract is a very low-risk deal, and given that it does not classify as a “35+ contract” as he signed it before his 36th birthday, the Kings are in the clear if any ideas of retirement come up before fulfilling the contract.
Kopitar is already accounted for in the Kings’ history books. He is currently third all-time in points by a Kings player with 1,141, and will almost certainly take over second place from Luc Robitaille as he only sits 13 points back. He is fourth in goals (393), second in assists (748), and will surpass Dustin Brown for the most games played in a Kings uniform just four games into next season. Many can argue that he is the best King of all time, in the conversation with Marcel Dionne and Wayne Gretzky.
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Keeping Kopitar locked up squashes any potential rumors headed into next season, and the captain will likely finish out his career as a King and continue to climb the record books.