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Fair Value or Overpayment?: Kings Re-Sign Anze Kopitar $7M Per Season

The Los Angeles Kings have re-signed captain Anze Kopitar to a two-year contract extension. Did the overpay to keep him?

The Los Angeles Kings have secured their captain, Anze Kopitar, for the next two seasons beyond the 2023-24 campaign. Just weeks after trading for and signing a long-term deal with another first-line center in Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Kings made sure they didn’t lose one of the best defensive pivots in the NHL and gave Kopitar a new contract as he approaches the final year of a deal that paid him $10 million per season. While Kopitar is still a great player, it’s a lot of money as he plays out the rest of his career, especially when he likely would have signed for a lot less.

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The team announced on Thursday that they have signed Kopitar to a two-year contract extension, ensuring his presence on the roster through the 2025-26 season. The new deal, set to commence in the 2024-25 season, comes with an average annual value (AAV) of $7 million. Kopitar, who led the Kings in scoring last season with an impressive 74 points, consisting of 28 goals and 46 assists in 82 games, has proven his worth as a top-tier center. There is no question about this being a fair deal for the veteran based on his production — it definitely is.

At the same time, the Kings are trying to win, haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs in the past two seasons, and with the Dubois signing, are clearly preparing for life after Kopitar. The Kings’ decision to secure Kopitar’s services comes at a time when they have also made significant investments in other centers, such as Philip Danault and the cap hasn’t jumped yet. It will, but should it not jump as much as everyone is expecting, the Kings have tied themselves to this deal, especially considering the contract includes a full no-move clause.

Kopitar himself expressed his excitement to continue his career with the Kings, considering Los Angeles his home. He emphasized his commitment to the organization, noting the team’s potential to achieve something extraordinary. The goal of winning another Stanley Cup remains paramount in his mind. That’s all wonderful, but would it not have served the organization a bit better to get this deal done for around $1.5-$2 million less? It absolutely would have, and frankly, the Kings probably could have.

Kopitar Is Not Your Typical Aging NHLer

Kopitar’s track record, defensive prowess, and durability make him an integral part of the team’s plans moving forward. The 35-year-old Slovenian was honored with the 2023 Lady Byng Trophy, a testament to his outstanding sportsmanship, conduct, and skill on the ice. General Manager Rob Blake expressed his satisfaction with the extension, acknowledging Kopitar’s leadership and his pivotal role in the team’s pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

While some fans may have been surprised by the $7 million AAV, which appears relatively high, others recognize Kopitar’s contributions and the consistency he brings to the team. Leading the Kings in scoring at 35 years old is a remarkable feat, showcasing his enduring talent.

With the extension in place, Kopitar’s focus remains on helping the Kings reach their ultimate goal of another Stanley Cup victory. The contract ensures that he will continue to anchor the team as a key contributor, both on and off the ice.

$7 million is $7 million in today’s NHL landscape, so the number isn’t insignificant. That said, the Los Angeles Kings’ decision to re-sign Anze Kopitar to a two-year extension solidifies his role as a leader and core player within the organization. There are worse ways to spend the money and if there’s such a thing as an ageless wonder in the NHL, he might be as close as it gets. As the team aims to elevate their game and compete for a championship, Kopitar’s presence and performance will undoubtedly be instrumental in their success. This might be a touch too much, but it’s not at all out of the realm of what was fair.

Some may wonder if Kopitar should have taken a touch less to stay with the team and help them win. Others will say he did by taking a $3 million haircut on his current contract. Time will tell if the Kings are a team that struggles to sign players under the cap or this Kopitar extension isn’t the issue, assuming there even is one.

Next: Will Max Domi Be with the Maple Leafs for the Long Term?

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