Latest on Anze Kopitar, an update on potentially available defensemen and yes, more on the Calgary Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Kopitar unhappy with Kings management?
TSN: Darren Dreger claims Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar isn’t happy with management over the lack of progress in his contract negotiations. Dreger cites those close to Kopitar wondering what more he has to do to prove himself, believing he should “turn up the heat” on GM Dean Lombardi. Bob McKenzie believes if that’s the case, Kopitar could set a deadline to get a deal done in-season. He speculates the Kings center could seek around $10 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whenever I’ve suggested Kopitar could earn $10 million annually, some readers dismiss that figure as too much. Folks, he’s led the Kings in scoring in every season since 2007-08, and was their leading scorer in both of their Stanley Cup championship runs. Indeed, I believe Kopitar, not Justin Williams, should’ve won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2014 playoff MVP. He was a finalist for the Selke Trophy in 2014 and for the 2015 Lady Byng Trophy. He’s one of the best two-way centers in the game. So yes, he’s worth $10 million annually, and he’ll get it, either from the Kings or another club next summer via free agency.
I believe the stumbling block here is annual salary, as the Kings obviously want a deal that’s more to their advantage, probably up to $9 million annually on an eight-year deal. I can certainly see why they would want that, as they must also re-sign or replace Milan Lucic, Christian Ehrhoff and Jhonas Enroth. $10 million annually cuts deeply into their payroll, especially if the salary cap only marginally increases for 2016-17.
Could this result in the Kings shopping Kopitar? The only way I see that happening is near the Feb. 29 trade deadline, and then only if the Kings are out of playoff contention and Kopitar decides to test the UFA market in July. Right now, it’s far too early to start that speculation.
Several defensemen believed available.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there are several defensemen available for clubs seeking blueline depth. He lists Philadelphia’s Luke Schenn, Toronto’s Roman Polak, Tampa Bay’s Matt Carle and Calgary’s Dennis Wideman, though he notes the latter two come with hefty contracts. McKenzie notes it’s still early and several teams seeking defensemen have salary-cap considerations.
CALGARY HERALD: Kristen Odland reports Flames defensemen Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell acknowledged the trade speculation swirling about them, chalking it up to the club’s early-season struggles. Both claimed to be unconcerned, and Wideman said he hasn’t been approached by management about waiving his no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll likely see trade activity pick up around mid-to-late November, as that tends to be the time when struggling teams start making moves to shake things up. Looking at McKenzie’s list of potentially available blueliners, only Wideman is a clear standout. Schenn’s stock has plummeted, Polak is a third-pairing blueliner on a deep team and Carle is carrying too much salary for the type of game he plays.