Dancing in the Reign: Do Anze Kopitar’s Numbers Initiate A Deadline Deal?
It’s one thing for an elite player to have a supporting cast. It’s another thing for those surroundings to provide a boost. Among the reasons that justify Dean Lombardi making a deal by Monday afternoon, Anze Kopitar‘s offensive production may be the most telling. Through 59 games, Kopitar has recorded 17 goals and 38 assists, combined for 55 points. To label that as a poor stat-line would be a stretch, far from it; disappointing may be a better outlook. So what’s the reasoning for Kopitar’s decline in offensive production this year? Some may say the Kings have encouraged a stricter defensive gameplan for the centerman. His plus/minus rating attains to that theory, but that’s a statistic that many believe to be misleading. Kopitar is riding a +17 mark when on the ice. Here’s the bottom line; Anze Kopitar is making $6.8 million to be the Kings’ main offensive outlet, his defensive responsibilities shouldn’t hinder his point production. With the trade-deadline just six days away, Dean Lombardi must shop for an addition that feeds to rekindling Kopitar’s offensive potential.
Anze Kopitar has been the victim of inconsistent linemates for the past two seasons. His career-high mark of 81 points last year survived the carousel, but the irregularities of his surroundings may be starting to take a toll. Sometimes players have needs that must be honored by their organization; For the Kings and Kopitar, there’s no question that need is a top line left-winger. Adding a proven consistent offensive threat will open space for Kopitar, creating more opportunity. Targeted by opposition since the start of his NHL career, Kopitar’s game has been exposed. More time in the league has allowed teams to continually develop an approach in defending the Slovenian, which has undoubtedly had an affect on his game. Anze Kopitar is not the problem, finding a player who can work well with him on a consistent basis is. Kopitar needs a co-worker who attracts the defense, creating more space to work with, alleviating pressure and giving the green light to a pure offensive approach. If Dean Lombardi does in fact pull the trigger and bring fresh blood to Los Angeles, it’s got to be all or nothing. The player the Kings need, the player Kopitar needs, is going to cost the Kings a valued asset or two. If a respected name isn’t leaving Los Angeles if a trade is executed, then it’s not good enough. Steady may be comfortable, but that doesn’t translate into postseason success. The subtraction a trade will cost may be hard to swallow, but for Anze Kopitar, it’s addition by addition.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Home Primary: Getty Images/Harry How