The Los Angeles Kings’ season-ending loss last night is still fresh in the minds of many, but that hasn’t stopped some of the team’s players from looking forward to the future in today’s exit media availabilities. One of those players is captain Anze Kopitar, who said today to the media (including The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein) that he wants to retire as a “one-franchise player” and would like to have a conversation about a contract extension this summer.
Kopitar, 35, will see his $10MM AAV deal expire next summer and is therefore eligible for a contract extension at the start of the new league year. Despite reaching his mid-thirties Kopitar remains the Kings’ most important player. He’s a lineup-topping first-line-center who scored 74 points in the regular season and seven points in the team’s six-game playoff loss. While the Kings might not have the financial bandwidth to have his next contract match his current $10MM cap hit, this looks to be a situation where both sides are highly motivated to get a deal done and therefore it’s a decent possibility that we see a Kopitar contract extension this summer.
Some other notes from the Western Conference:
- The Kings’ most important winger, Kevin Fiala, talked to the media today as well and gave an update on the status of his health. While he did not want to dive into specifics, Fiala called the injury that caused him to miss three games of the Kings’ first-round series a continuation of the knee injury he suffered earlier in the season against the Colorado Avalanche. He did state that no summer surgery would be necessary to get him back to full health, which is great news for the Kings as Fiala (72 points in 69 regular-season games and six points in three playoff contests) is their most dynamic offensive generator.
- Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe relays word from Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff at his press conference today that Jets 2021 second-round pick Nikita Chibrikov is in Winnipeg and is expected to join the AHL’s Manitoba Moose at the conclusion of his KHL contract. The expectation is that the 20-year-old winger will play in North America next season after spending most of this season with Spartak Moscow in the KHL. As is the norm for many younger players in the KHL, Chibrikov received very few minutes in the 31 games he played in the KHL this season, sometimes playing as little as 46 seconds, as he did in a February loss to Dynamo Moscow. It’s very possible that the Jets view the AHL as a better developmental environment for Chibrikov, prompting today’s announcement.