Nominee number one: Anze Kopitar
As usual, the captain of the LA Kings had an excellent season.
The 33-year-old center far and away led the Kings in scoring this season with a stat line of 13 goals and 37 assists for a total of 50 points. The mainstay number one center for the team, he once again showed his durability by playing in all 56 games while averaging 21:11 of time on ice. Despite all of his playing time, Kopitar only took ten minutes in penalties.
What makes Anze Kopitar so special is he can do anything that is asked of him. Need a big goal? He’s your man. Need a big penalty kill? Put Kopitar out there. Anze has been the “do anything the team needs” guy since he arrived in LA over a decade ago.
The LA Kings are loaded with prospects at the center position, and it will be a strength for the team in the very near future. However, this season was in flux for long stretches of the season except for on the first line, where Kopitar has been the one constant. As Quinton Byfield, Gabe Vilardi, Alex Turcotte, and Jaret Anderson-Dolan continue their development, Kopitar will mentor the youngsters while being an anchor for the team.
To illustrate his career of excellence, Kopitar scored his 1,000th NHL point this year, his 15th season in the NHL.