Another King in the Rangers court? The chances of Anze Kopitar on Broadway
If you haven’t heard (and it is possible with the NY Mets in the middle of a World Series run), Anze Kopitar‘s contract talks aren’t going well with the L.A. Kings. Is there a chance that this superstar could land on Broadway by the February 29th trade deadline?
The big and offensively skilled center is in the last year of his contract that comes with a cap hit of $6.8M. He is only 28 years old and has amassed 613 points in 692 NHL regular season games. In the playoffs, he has 60 points in 70 games and led the Kings in scoring both championship seasons. So what’s not to like or want here.
So how does it happen and who would be the center piece from the Rangers?
First the L.A. Kings will likely need to be a middle of the pack team by February. As of right now they are in 1st place in the Pacific Division but it’s a long road to the deadline from here. If that should come to fruition the next aspect needs to be the continued doubt that they can work out a deal.
According to hockey insiders like Bob McKenzie, Kopitar is looking for a new multi year deal upwards of 10 million plus. That is a hefty price to pay, and they aren’t exactly loaded on cap space. If Kopitar doesn’t lessen his demands and the Kings cave, re-signing players like Milan Lucic becomes almost impossible.
On a recent TSN Insider Trading, Darren Dreger stated Kopitar was upset with the Kings over progress in his contract talks. Furthermore, Dreger indicated that those close to Kopitar feel he needs to “turn up the heat” on GM Dean Lombardi. If this is stalled out by the deadline, even with the Kings on top of the division, Lombardi will at least explore a deal and not within his Conference.
Now how do the Rangers fit in? Well we know that they feel they are a contender to win the Cup. That also means that if they feel there’s a move that could bring them closer at the deadline, they will make it. Look no further than last year’s acquisition of Keith Yandle for young stud, Anthony Duclair.
However, to acquire a talent the caliber of Anze Kopitar they will need to part with a player from the top two lines, and also a young player/prospects. Let’s start with the person the Kings will ask for right away, Derek Stepan which will be quickly rejected and move on to the obvious choice, Derick Brassard. The Kings would be getting a talented center who is also 28 years of age and comes with a friendly cap hit of $5M until 2019.
From there the Kings will likely ask for Pavel Buchnevich which GM, Jeff Gorton will scoff at. Then the Kings will turn their sights to players like Oscar Lindberg, J.T. Miller and Brady Skjei. This is where it could get very dicey and kill any deal with the Blueshirts.
Know this, the Rangers will have some cap space at the deadline to fit Kopitar’s current hit. They may have to part with another roster player to make the deal and some other talent in the minors. An obvious choice on the roster today is Jesper Fast to move along with Brassard. A package of Brassard, Fast and say, McIlrath could at least be a starting point in finding a way to bring Kopitar to Broadway.
Will It Happen?
A deal of this magnitude, especially with a star like Kopitar is always an unlikely scenario. It is also only the end of October and plenty of days from here until February 29th for the Kings and Kopitar to work things out.
There is also the aftermath of such a deal and how would the Rangers fit Kopitar under next year’s cap. Especially if he wants $10M! The ceiling won’t go up that high and NY would then have to look hard at moving players like Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi who have limited no-trade/no-movement clauses. Bottom line, if the Rangers were to make the deal, it wouldn’t be for a rental…they would pony up and give him what he wants.
Still, the idea is compelling and I assure you…if they haven’t reached an agreement by January, Kopitar trade rumors will start flying. Just know that FullTilt Rangers had the foresight to see this one at the start of the season.
Of course, I will take the abuse and ridicule for the next few months starting the moment I hit the PUBLISH button.