After a week of “will he or won’t he”, Anze Kopitar reached an $80 million deal over eight years with an average AAV of $10 million a year. The deal is front loaded and in his first year he will make $14 million and it descends downward over the course of the contract. In the last four years, there is a modified no-trade clause as well.
The deal had been reportedly agreed upon for weeks but had a few contentious parts to it. The agreed upon theory is that GM Dean Lombardi was negotiating over the movement clause and when it would or would not kick in. Lombardi, who is a former agent, is notoriously stingy with giving out that clause and loves dealing players once they have worn our their welcome.
The question is for Lombardi, is this deal any good for the Kings? Does it compare well to the other players in the league?
The dirty little secret that no one wants to let you know is that Anze Kopitar is every bit as good as Jonathan Toews. Their possession numbers are nearly equal and their scoring is extremely comparable as well with Kopitar having the slight edge. Toews is going to have a higher AAV at 10.5 which must have been a significant number to the Kopitar camp as they got perilously close to that number.
If you talk to pundits, many will say that this is a slippery slope and it shouldn’t be the going rate for a center barely scoring above 70 points a season. What people don’t know is that scoring is going down and the top players aren’t scoring at rates pre lockout. This is going to be the going rate and you will have to get used to it, Steven Stamkos is going to be asking for a similar deal if he goes to the free agent market, although he doesn’t have the defensive prowess of Kopitar and Toews. Top-line young centers will be asking for similar deals and it will make evaluation that much more important for front offices. You may have seen the first shoe drop when the Blue Jackets traded away Ryan Johansen who they didn’t believe was cut from the same cloth.
Kopitar may age and may have his production dip, but he will be a player that for the extent of his deal will keep the Kings competitive. That is all they can ask for and luckily for Kopitar he gets to be paid handsomely for his services.