Los Angeles Kings: 3 Reasons To Worry About Anze Kopitar’s Contract

Dec 31, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is still without a new contract. The clock is ticking.

Did you ever think to yourself last summer, “Anze Kopitar needs a new contract next year or else he’ll become a free agent? Yeah, no problem. Kopitar will be a King for life. I’m not worried about it.”

I certainly did. Especially with Dean Lombardi at the helm, the Kings’ general manager and a guy who is a master negotiator with a solid track record.

But it is now almost midway through January and Kopitar is still left without a new contract and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1 if it stays that way.

Please, PLEASE don’t let this happen, Dean.

Kopitar is arguably the best center in the entire world. He plays the penalty kill, power play and has led the Kings in scoring for the past eight seasons. How does this guy not have a contract yet?

Without further ado, here are three reasons why you should worry about Anze Kopitar’s contract negotiations.

Anze Kopitar Steve Mason
Nov 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) scores the game winning goal against Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason (35) during the shootout at Wells Fargo Center. The Kings derated the Flyers, 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

3) One of the strangest negotiations

In Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, Friedman said that this is one of the strangest negotiations he’s ever covered. He reported, like many other reporters, that everything points to this deal happening, yet nothing has been finalized.

He also mentioned a few things that will scare any Kings fan. One of those things was asking if there was some kind of problem we weren’t aware of or if talks are in a deadlock.

He also mentioned that one NHL executive even went as far as to ask if he and his team “should actually plan for the possibility Kopitar hits the market.”

In an article by TSN’s Bob McKenzie back on November 25, 2015, McKenzie asked what was taking so long for the Kings to lock Kopitar up and stated that nearly everyone thought a deal would be done by then.

That was 1.5 months ago, and here we are. What’s taking so long?

Anze Kopitar
Oct 31, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) dives after the puck in the second period of the game against the Nashville Predators at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

2) He’s playing great hockey

Anze Kopitar is playing some of the best hockey of his career and certainly the best of the season right now.

After a slow start to the campaign, the Slovenian star has occupied the points column as of late. He’s passed Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead in points (35) and has registered 15 points since Christmas (nine games). Heck, he’s even had two four-point nights in that span.

He’s shooting at a solid 13.6% rate and hasn’t tallied lower than a 10.2% shooting percentage in his career, which came in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

There have been some reports that the Kings and Kopitar have agreed on the dollar amount of $9.75 million for eight years, but it is very likely that Kopitar could get much closer to the league-high $10.5 million per year that Chicago Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are making should he hit free agency.

Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team offered him more than that amount based on the market price for superstars today.

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1) A dangerous game

You can only play with fire for so long.

In a radio interview on TSN 1050, TSN’s McKenzie hinted that Kopitar’s frustration is growing by the day for every day this contract does not get done. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but you have to think the Kings’ star would want to get this done as soon as possible.

Kopitar has publicly said he’d love to stay in L.A. and wants to stay here, but perhaps that’s a bargaining tool Lombardi and the Kings are using for whatever aspect of the contract that is dragging this out. Perhaps management doesn’t see Kopitar leaving for another team as a huge threat.

But anything can happen.

I understand this is a negotiation and these things can take time, but for a player of this calibre to still be without a new contract this deep into the season is worrisome for Kings fans.