Tag: Anze Kopitar


Rangers rewarded Stepan for playing ‘big in the big moments on the biggest stage’


The New York Rangers made Derek Stepan their third highest-paid player on Monday and, to hear GM Jeff Gorton explain it, a major reason why was Stepan’s ability to perform under pressure.

“[You] want players who can play big in the big moments on the biggest stage — and there is no bigger stage than New York City,” Gorton said, per Blueshirts United. “Derek has proven he can do that.”

It’s a telling statement for a team in the midst of a Stanley Cup window.

Having been to the Final in 2014 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last season, the Rangers are clearly in win-now mode; Stepan has been a major part of that, and will continue to be moving forward.

The only difference now?

He’s got a contract to live up to.

The 25-year-old more than doubled his annual average value — from $3.075M to $6.5M — and, as mentioned above, trails only Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist in terms of New York’s highest cap hits. Gorton said Stepan was rewarded for “success he’s had, the leadership qualities he has,” adding the Rangers identified him as “one of the guys we want to build around.”

With this new contract, Stepan will receive an increase not just in dollars, but also responsibilities and pressure. He’s now getting paid like a true No. 1 center.

And to be fair, Stepan earned his pay bump. His 55 points in 68 games last season resulted in a 0.81 PPG average, on par with the likes of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar. He also finished third on the team in scoring in each of the last two playoffs and, quite memorably, scored the OT winner in Game 7 of New York’s second-round victory over Washington in May:

The hope now, of course, is that the best of Stepan is yet to come. It’s easy to forget this is still a relatively young player; thanks to an early debut (at 20) and his durability (he’s played 362 of a possible 376 games), Stepan has a wealth of experience for someone that only turned 25 last month.

It’s something Gorton banked on by shelling out $39 million over the next six years.

“We’re really happy to get Derek locked up,” he explained. “It’s a really good thing for the Rangers and for Ranger fans.

“This is a 25-year-old player, who has played well for us already, and who now will play his prime years for us moving forward.”

Report: Kopitar contract extension now the Kings’ ‘highest, most forefront priority’


L.A. Kings center Anze Kopitar will turn 28 years old toward the end of next month, so could he be celebrating his birthday with a contract extension?

According to LA Kings Insider, negotiations between the Kings and Kopitar on an extension have only just started but are expected to pick up as the summer continues. The report also mentions optimism that an extension could be finalized by the end of the summer.

From LA Kings Insider:

One of the reasons for the timing of the current contract push is that the Kings needed to finalize new contracts for a heavy crop of restricted free agents. That had been communicated to Kopitar and his representation, and because the final six RFAs signed contracts with the Kings over the previous two days, Kopitar’s extension now becomes the club’s highest and most forefront priority. Because he would be resigning with Los Angeles, he would be eligible to sign an eight-year contract extension.

Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career to date with the Kings, winning two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. In both runs to the championship, he had a point-per-game pace. He recorded 64 points last season, but finished ninth in the league with 48 assists.

He was also a dominant force as far as puck possession goes, with the second-best Corsi For rating on the Kings at 59.2 per cent at five-on-five, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

Kopitar is entering the final year of his current seven-year contract worth a total of $47.6 million. He would be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension


Kings center Anze Kopitar is “in the early stages of negotiations for what will probably be a lengthy contract extension,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Kopitar, along with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, headline the top pending unrestricted free agents of next summer. Also in that group are Eric Staal, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Kesler, Jakub Voracek, Brent Seabrook and Milan Lucic.

For the Kings, if Kopitar re-signs, it’ll be another long-term contract on the books. Los Angeles currently has seven players locked up through at least 2019-20.

Kopitar, 27, will almost certainly become the Kings’ highest cap hit. At present, that belongs to Drew Doughty, at $7 million through 2018-19.

Related: Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar are the Selke Trophy finalists