The saga has mercifully come to an end.
From ‘inching closer’ to being ‘close to done’ to ‘far from done’ to ‘inching closer’, the drama that was the Anze Kopitar‘s contract extension has finally — and thankfully — reached a conclusion.
On Wednesday, TSN‘s Bob McKenzie reported that Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms on an 8-year/$80-million contract extension. On Friday, the deal, according to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, will officially be signed.
While this is, or rather will be, substantial news in itself, it will leave many wondering what will happen next in Los Angeles.
The $10 million annually given to Kopitar is quite the increase from the approximately $8.75 he was originally slated to sign for. This, in addition to the club wanting to re-sign Milan Lucic, is going to leave someone on the outside looking in.
Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown appear to be the two front-runners, if you will, to be shipped out of town.
Following this season, both will have four years remaining on their respective contracts. However, Brown’s cap hit is $5.875 while Gaborik’s is $4.875. For the latter, though, while his eight goals and nine assists through 42 games is subpar by his standards, Gaborik has played much better since the end of November and has proven that he can play well with anyone in Los Angeles.
Dustin Brown, on the other hand, has also experienced an offensive decline. He has just four goals and 10 assists in 42 games thus far and just hasn’t been quite the same in recent years. With that said, and with all due respect to Gaborik, Brown means so much more to the Los Angeles Kings, their fans and their community than arguably anyone else, even Anze Kopitar.
He is the only U.S.-born player to captain his team to multiple Stanley Cup wins and he is known as one of the best leaders not only in the present-day NHL but in league history, being synonymous with the likes of Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. So, to part ways with Brown, while it would be a sensible business move, would have to be a very emotional decision to make — one many Kings fans would have a difficult time coming to terms with despite his hefty salary.
As of right now, it is a celebratory day for the Los Angeles Kings as they lock up their franchise cornerstone for the next eight years. Whatever drama will unfold beyond this remains to be seen but until then, fans of the silver-and-black can go to bed tonight knowing that they have a good-night sleep to look forward to.