If you weren’t aware before the playoffs started, you found out during the Los Angeles Kings’ run to winning their second Stanley Cup in three years that Anze Kopitar is a pretty good player.
Kopitar led all players in the postseason in points with 26. He had a hand in shutting down superstar centers Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonathan Toews in the first three rounds and did well to hold Derek Stepan to just two assists in the Cup Final.
Even in spite of his success, he may not jump to mind first when talking about elite centers in the NHL and Kings captain Dustin Brown can’t believe that as Corey Masisak of NHL.com shared.
“You try and describe guys [as] ‘shutdown D’ or ‘goal-scorer’ or ‘grinder.’ I’ve said this before about [Kopitar], he’s just a hockey player,” Brown said. “If the best play’s a pass, it’s a pass, if the best play’s a shot, it’s a shot. He’s just a complete hockey player. He doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion, partly probably because of the market we’re in, his background. If he was a Canadian and played in New York, [there would] probably be more people talking about him.”
There’s no doubt about that, but even as a Slovenian playing in Los Angeles, more people are taking notice of him. Winning two Stanley Cups helps out, but he’s been a top point producer for the Kings since entering the league in 2006. Having offense to go with the superstar-shutting-down defense makes him one of the league’s best.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)
While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)
Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)
The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (NHL.com)
It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.
Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.
He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.
Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.