30-Year-Old Center – Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar Contract Information:
Signed an eight-year, $80 million contract extension in January of 2016.
Kopitar earned the second Selke trophy of his NHL career for the 2017-18 season, awarded to the best defensive forward, Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times reports.
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Anze Kopitar: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Kopitar’s been one of the league’s most consistent players (and scorers) for years, and with Pavel Datsyuk having retired from the NHL, there’s a legitimate argument to be made for the Slovenian center as the single best two-way player in the league. The Kings’ captain has gone exactly plus-34 with 70-plus points in two of the last three seasons – sandwiching a relatively disappointing 2014-15 in which he still scored 64 points – and he consistently plays some of the biggest minutes of any forward, as coach Darryl Sutter deploys him in all situations. As he approaches his age-29 season, there’s no reason to believe Kopitar won’t turn in his seventh 70-point season as he and the Kings try for a third Stanley Cup in five years. He’ll go early in fantasy drafts once again, and with good reason.
Kopitar may have had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2014-15, but as a testament to his greatness, he still finished 30th in the league in scoring. In his first season skating in more than 50 games with fewer than 20 goals, Kopitar churned out 64 points, which was his lowest total in a full season since 2006-07, his rookie year. The scoring drop didn't change his standing as one of the game's best two-way players, as he finishing third in the Selke Award balloting. While Kopitar's excellent defense won't do much to aid your fantasy team, it does mean that he shoulders one of the heaviest burdens of any forward in terms of average ice time. At 28 years old, Kopitar is hardly over the hill, so it's quite possible the addition of Milan Lucic to the top line with prop up the center's point production and plus/minus rating.
Kopitar is never going to win a scoring title -- LA's system won't provide that kind of opportunity. But he means as much to his team as any other player in the league. He's as durable as they come and is a lock for 70 to 80 points and elite-level defense each season. Whether or not the 26-year-old can take another step forward with the highly-skilled Marion Gaborik at his side remains to be seen, but since he's entering the prime of his career, the potential is certainly there. Don't bet against an uptick in production. We're not.
Kopitar got off to a hot start in 2012-13, but faded badly down the stretch when his shooting percentage returned to normal and his power play production went south. He remains an integral part of the Kings at both ends of the ice, but his increased defensive focus may limit his fantasy upside going forward. He's still a heck of a hockey player, but he may never hit the 40-goal mark that many had foreseen as he enters the prime of his career. At this point, his owners might have to be happy with 25.
Kopitar started the season red hot with 14 points in his first 11 games, but failed to top the 30-goal mark for the second straight year. He's prone to extended scoring slumps and often is tasked with playing against the opposition's top line which figures to keep his overall numbers down. But he's still a threat to score 30 goals as he enters the prime of his career.
Kopitar was well on his way to setting career highs until a scoring slump in January and February and then had his season cut short with an ugly ankle injury in late March. It was still a fine season (25 G, 48 A) out of the 23-year-old but not quite the breakout season many were anticipating. He's a safe bet for 18-20 goals at even strength, but will need to be better on the power play (six goals, 12 assists last year) if he wants to return to the 30-goal plateau. His offseason rehab from ankle surgery has gone well, though we'll have a better idea on his status once training camp starts.
Last year, Kopitar set career highs in goals (34), assists (47), points (81), power-play goals (14) and power-play assists (24) en route to the breakout season that many were expecting. He did slow down after a scorching first two months of the season (33 points in 27 games) and the 23-year old should be able to repeat, though a healthy Ryan Smyth would certainly help the cause. Expect another 30-goal, 80-point season with the possibility of another step forward.
Kopitar got off to a woeful start, netting just 2 goals in his first 17 games, but he finished strong and you have to believe there’s another gear here for the 22-year old. Expect him to build off last year’s totals (27 G, 39 A, 7 PPG) and return to the 30-goal level.
The youngster followed up a promising rookie campaign with a breakout season (32-45-77 with 12 power-play goals) as a 20-year old. He's got the size, speed and hands to take over a game and is clearly the Kings' franchise player. He's the Kings' youngest and most talented option from a group of young forwards that will be counted on even more after the departure of Michael Camallerri.
One of the best rookies last season, Kopitar could have won the Calder Trophy if not for some injury problems late in the season. Kopitar, the first Slovenian-born player in NHL history, posted 61 points (20 goals, 41 assists) in 72 games as a 19-year-old rookie and displayed the size, hands and skill needed to be an offensive force for years to come. He's only going to get better, so don't sleep on his upside just because you haven't stayed up late to watch him play.
After staying in Europe to play last season it appears that Kopitar may come to the States to play for the first time. He will get a long look at the Kings training camp because of his size (6-4/220) and skill set. Recent acquisition, Scott Thornton, played with Kopitar during the lockout season and was very impressed with his game. With the Kings needing a replacement for Pavol Demitra and having not made a splash in the free agent market, it could be placed on Kopitar’s broad shoulders. He could be a sleeper in some leagues. Keep an eye on him during training camp.
Young Slovenian star played in with Södertälje of the Swedish Elite League in 2004-2005 and will likely remain in the SEL for 2005-2006 to further his development. He's already being hailed as "complete" player, right down to the faceoff circle, and with a bit more strength, he has the markings of a very special player for his NHL squad.