With training camp just around the corner, we are previewing each player on the LA Kings roster. Up first, Anze Kopitar.
Birthdate: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, Slovenia
Weight: 225 lbs
Drafted: 1st Round, 11th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft
The Kings captain started the year off with a bang, recording his fifth career hat trick in the team’s dominating 6-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
“When your captain can come out and play that type of game tonight, it sets the tone for everybody,” coach Todd McLellan said. “Kopi, Brownie, and Doughty didn’t produce points in the exhibition season, but they were getting themselves ready. It’s pretty clear that they were getting themselves prepared to play, and happy for them, happy for us.”
Kopitar put together a solid first half of the season, tallying 14 goals and 28 assists for 42 points. However, the second half of his season left a lot to be desired, as he had only five goals with 20 assists for 25 points. For whatever reason, Kopitar was shooting the puck at an uncharacteristically low 6.3 percent after the All-Star break.
He also had just one goal with three assists in the Kings’ seven-game playoff series with Edmonton while continuing to shoot the puck at a paltry 3.6 percent.
Looking ahead to this season, Kopitar will likely have a new linemate in Kevin Fiala, who was acquired from the Minnesota Wild over the summer. The Swiss-born forward recorded a career-best 85 points last year. With Adrian Kempe flanking the other side, Kopitar will need to keep up with his speedy linemates.
With two years remaining on his contract, Kopitar could once again lead the Kings in points, but if Fiala or Kempe take over in that sense, or frankly anyone else, I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. If anything, it could be a promising sign for life after Kopitar.
I am curious to see whether Kopitar will continue to be the team’s No. 1 center or if Phillip Danault begins to take over that role at some point this season.