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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar would like for a new contract to get hammered out before the upcoming NHL season.
At least that’s what he said Friday at the team’s first day of on-ice training camp at Toyota Sports Center. Kopitar is supposed to be an unrestricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t come to a contract with Los Angeles.
And in some ways it’s still a shock that Kopitar, 28, is still unsigned. Players like him tend to get locked up relatively quickly. Los Angeles could have signed Kopitar to a new deal starting July 1.
“You don’t think about it too much,” Kopitar said. “I’ve said it all along, it’d be nice if it was done before the season. But if not, it’s really not that big of a deal. There’s still plenty of time left in that regard, too. So we’ll see what happens.”
When asked if he would be OK with an extension being negotiated during the regular season, Kopitar said he hadn’t thought about such a scenario.
“We’ve got discussion, obviously,” Kopitar said. “[My agent] tells me everything that’s going on. There’s my input in there, too. It’s a two-way street.”
Kopitar’s agent is Pat Brisson, who reportedly is in Switzerland at the moment. Brisson works for CAA and is based in the Los Angeles area.
According to a Sept. 1 story in LA Kings Insider, Kopitar and the Kings were “not even in the ballpark” in their talks.
USA Today asked Kopitar about a week later about his deal.
"We're maybe not as close as we wanted to be at this point, but I'm also not worried.
“I've said it all along: If it happens before the actual season starts, it would be really nice. But if it doesn't, no alarms will go off. There's still plenty of time."
There’s an underlying feeling that this deal is going to get done. But there are some questions about Kopitar moving forward that we noted in our Kings season preview – specifically whether his slight numbers decline last season was a fluke.
If he’s going to get a maximum eight years, that would take him to age 37 – since an extension would kick in when he’s 29 years old.
Kopitar is entering the final season of a seven-year $47.6 million contract.
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