Anze Kopitar, Kings strike 8-year, $80-million US deal

Anze Kopitar will remain a King for the long-term after Los Angeles announced the signing of its star centre to an eight-year contract on Saturday.

2-time Cup champion tops L.A. with 35 points this season

Kings centre Anze Kopitar has agreed to an eight-year contract. The 28-year-old is in the final season of a seven-year pact worth $47.6 million and leads L.A. with 35 points in 42 games this season. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Anze Kopitar will remain a King for the long-term after Los Angeles announced the signing of its star centre to an eight-year contract on Saturday worth $80 million US.

The 28-year-old, who had been negotiating a new contract for more than six months, is in the final season of a seven-year pact worth $47.6 million.

"He's worth every penny of it," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "A guy that's good enough to do that, you win championships with players like that. … A guy like Kopitar, his best years are in front of him. Guys get rewarded for winning Stanley Cups, and when they're with one franchise for that period of time, when you've won Cups, then everybody is looking forward to the next part with them."

A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, who drafted him 11th overall in 2005, Kopitar has 12 goals and 36 points in 43 games this season and 230 goals and 415 assists in 725 games over 10 seasons.

Kopitar has a no-movement clause in the first four seasons of the deal and a limited no-movement clause for the final four seasons requiring him to submit a list of seven teams acceptable for a trade. 

The contract is the longest allowed by the NHL, and its $10 million average annual value trails only Chicago stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who each make $10.5 million.

"I've expressed throughout the process that I'd like to stay here," Kopitar said after contributing an assist in the Kings' 5-3 loss to Ottawa on Saturday. "When it's finalized, it's obviously some sort of relief and a very nice feeling."

Kopitar acknowledged the negotiations were a distraction.

"Probably I was thinking too much when it was going to be done, how it was going to be done and everything," he said. "I just had to put it aside and hope that eventually it's going to get resolved. It's a business, and sometimes things like that drag on a little bit longer than you'd like."

Kopitar is a two-time finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. He also led tiny Slovenia to the quarter-finals of the 2014 Sochi Olympic tournament.

Kopitar is considered one of the more dominant two-way players in the NHL and the numbers back it up. He has reached 70 points and was a plus player in five of eight seasons previous to this campaign.

And the six-foot-three, 225-pound Slovenian is durable, having played a full 82-game schedule in five seasons and missing only 21 games in his NHL career.

Through Dec. 28, according to ESPN.com, Kopitar led the league in Corsi for percentage at 59.9 since 2012-13, meaning when he's on the ice at even strength, they are averaging nearly six of every 10 shot attempts in a given game.

Los Angeles also has averaged a plus-10 shots on goal differential (34-24) per 60 minutes of even-strength hockey over that time, which means they control the puck much more than the opposition when Kopitar is on the ice.

He is also strong in the faceoff circle, winning more than 52 per cent of his draws since 2011-12. This season, Kopitar boasts a 53.3 per cent success rate through Jan. 16.

The Kings forward also doesn't disappear in the post-season, with 18 goals and 60 points in 70 NHL playoff contests.

Kopitar is beloved by Los Angeles fans who appreciate his talent and community service work alongside his wife, Ines. His dog, Gustl, even has a Twitter account with more than 4,000 followers.

"For me, it's not going to change my game," Kopitar said. "It's not going to change my mindset. It's the same way: Be the best you can be, help your team win."

With files from The Associated Press


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