This post is part of Kings Day on PHT…
Coming into the 2016-17 season, Anze Kopitar had led the Los Angeles Kings in scoring in nine consecutive seasons. That streak came to an end, as Kopitar only managed to put up 12 goals and 52 points in 76 games.
The 52 points he amassed were his lowest total (excluding lockout-shortened seasons) since he came into the NHL in 2006.
Kopitar wasn’t the only one who struggled to put up solid offensive numbers. The Kings finished the season ranked 25th in goals scored (201). Only Buffalo, Arizona, New Jersey, Vancouver and Colorado found the back of the net less often. Those aren’t teams you want to have something in common with.
After they missed the playoffs, they decided to shake things up in the front office. Rob Blake replaced Dean Lombardi as GM and John Stevens took over behind the bench for Darryl Sutter, who isn’t exactly known for being a run-and-gun kind of coach.
The blame can’t all be placed on Sutter. While he was coaching the Kings, Kopitar still managed to put up two 70-point seasons (he also missed the 20-goal mark twice during Sutter’s tenure).
Kopitar, 30, has bounced back in the past. After scoring 16 goals in 79 games during the 2014-15 season, he came back and found the back of the net 25 times the following year. Will he be able to do that again?
The one thing that’s a little concerning, is the amount of hockey he’s played since coming into the league. The Kings captain has averaged under 20 minutes of ice only once in his 10-year career (19:23 in 2014-15). In the last two seasons, he’s averaged closer to 21 minutes. He’s also gone on three long playoff runs in the last six years and he’s played in the World Cup, the Olympics and the World Hockey Championship.
How much does he have left in the tank? His team better hope he has more high-level hockey to give them because Kopitar has seven years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $10 million.
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