Hopefully Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has an electric foot massager or one of those lavender scented happy eye pillows, because the stress on this guy just keeps increasing.
On top of the Slava Voynov decision, on top of his decision to terminate Mike Richards’ contract and the NHLPA fighting it, on top of trying to get a defending champion that missed the playoffs to climb back on the throne, he has to find a way to get his best offensive player under contract in a long-term-yet-fiscally-sane manner – and it’s not really going that well.
Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports that the gap between center Anze Kopitar and Lombardi is rather large as he enters the last year of a seven-year, $7.6 million contract that pays him a $7.7 million salary this season:
The Kings and Kopitar are “not even in the ballpark” in their discussions, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi told LA Kings Insider over email when asked whether the two sides were “close” to reaching an agreement.
… There is still ample time for the two sides to reach an agreement. Kopitar’s contract expires on July 1, 2016, and given the 28-year-old’s place amongst the game’s most elite centers, it would be among the most surprising developments of the upcoming season were the discussions to drag out until then. Given today’s exchange, though, it does not appear as though an agreement is on the immediate horizon.
Craig Custance of ESPN reports that the Kings and Kopitar are a "few million apart," and that the player doesn’t want to negotiate during the season, which is nuanced code for “sign my [expletive] in camp, Dean.”
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News believes that uncertainty over the salary cap due to the decline of the Canadian dollar is a driving factor, and it might be, in the sense that the starting point for the Kings might be a shade lower, as is their ceiling on an AAV for Kopitar.
But at the end of the day, Kopitar is a hockey star, not an economist. Look at the top cap hits for NHL centers. Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers is the starting point at $8.275 million annually for eight years. How much higher does Kopi want to go?
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