- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif – Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar said he’s had “some talks” with the team about a new contract, “but nothing finalized obviously.”
Kopitar is entering the final season of a seven-year $47.6 million deal with Los Angeles. In the recent past, Kopitar has indicated he would like a contract extension to get done before the start of the regular season.
The Kings are slated to open 2015-16 at Staples Center on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. local time against the San Jose Sharks.
When asked about his mental preparation for the season – going into the year as a pending unrestricted free agent in a contract year versus having a long-term deal locked up, the 28-year-old Kopitar tried to take a big picture view of his lack of contract extension.
“That’s still a long ways away so … my mind is in hockey right now, as I said. Would it be perfect or ideal to get it done now and not have to think about it? Yes. But if it’s not, it’s just not, so … I have to start here tomorrow and just play the way I can,” Kopitar said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s my last year or not. I have to play and do my thing and we’ll see where that takes me.”
Kopitar is coming off his worst full season since his rookie year. He failed to hit at least 20 goals for the first time in a full NHL season. His 64 points were just three more than his first year in the NHL in 2006-07. Kopitar did suffer an “upper body” injury in late October, which also could have led to the downtick in numbers.
He maintained that a long summer of relaxation mixed with training has made him come into camp feeling refreshed. The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2014. They also made the 2013 Western Conference Final. Last year they did not make the playoffs.
"(I’m) more rested. I guess a lot more hungry for hockey because the last few years we played quite a bit of hockey with very little rest in between and the offseasons were short,” Kopitar said.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter has put Kopitar on a line with newly acquired power forward Milan Lucic and speedster Marian Gaborik.
It’s a trio that stayed together on the last full practice before the regular season.
“You notice Kopitar every day because he’s such a good player. He had a tough year last year and a lot of it was predicated because he played a lot of hockey and he got hurt,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “He’s a pretty good player, easy player to coach.”
Despite the slight drop-off in numbers, Kopitar has been one of the most consistently excellent centers in the NHL since his rookie season. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound Slovenian has 610 points in 683 career games. Last season he ranked third in the NHL in on-ice shot attempts differential at plus-363. He is a two-time Selke Trophy finalist.
Kopitar is represented by Pat Brisson of CAA. It’s unclear as to what type of contract he’d want, though the eight-year $84 million contract for Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews would seem to be his comparable.
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY