Updates on Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Loui Eriksson.
Kings believe they’re close to re-signing Kopitar.
SPORTSNET: Mike Futa, the director of hockey operations for the Los Angeles Kings, told Hockey Central at Noon yesterday he believes his club is close to re-signing center Anze Kopitar. “He’s everything we covet as a King,” said Futa, adding, “It’s too close to not get it done.” He’s confident the two sides will “find a way to get it done.” Kopitar, 28, is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. He’s in the final season of a seven-year, $47.6 million deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s contract status prompted speculation over his future with the Kings. Last month, TSN’s Darren Dreger claimed an eight-year deal seemed in the works but salary had to be determined. That’s the sticking point here. I believe Kopitar, the Kings leading scorer for the past eight seasons, could be seeking around $10 million annually. The Kings, of course, prefer a lower rate, perhaps closer to $9 million.
I daresay the Kings are trying to swing this as a front-loaded deal to lower the annual cap hit. Remember, as long as the salary variance is no more than 50 percent, they can front load his contract.
Some of this site’s readers don’t believe Kopitar is worth $9-$10 million annually. Some even feel he’s overpaid at his current rate of $6.8 million annually. The fact is, Kopitar is one of the elite two-way centers in the league. He’s led the Kings in scoring every season since 2007-08, plus he was their leading playoff scorer during both of their Stanley Cup championship runs. He was a finalist for the Selke Trophy in 2014 and a finalist for the Lady Byng trophy in 2015. The man is going to get a hefty raise, either from the Kings or another team via free agency.
Should the Bruins re-sign Eriksson.
WEEI.COM: D.J. Bean makes what he admittedly considers “a way-too-early declaration” that the Boston Bruins should re-sign winger Loui Eriksson, who’s eligible next summer for UFA status. Bean observes Eriksson, whose current cap hit is $4.25 million, is leading all Bruins forwards in ice time for the second straight season, as he also works the power play and kills penalties. He’s also currently third on the Bruins in points, leads them in assists and is their best puck-possession player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Bean makes a solid case, provided the Bruins don’t overpay in dollars or tenure. A four-year deal for $5.5 million seems fair, though his camp could push for five years at $6 million per. I think Bruins management will be keen to keep him, but they won’t overpay for the privilege. Keep an eye on his status of the course of the season.
No nibbles for Mike Richards.
TSN.CA: Frank Seravalli reports agent Pat Morris, who represents former LA Kings center Mike Richards, said no team has contacted him expressing interest in his client. Seravalli claims popular sentiment is Richards will eventually land another NHL job. He believes “teams may be awaiting the adjudication of his arrest for possession of a controlled substance, which is scheduled to resume in court on Dec. 8 in Emerson, M.B.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if any team signs Richards during this season. While some clubs could be awaiting the outcome of his court case, he’s been idle for a long time. Teams usually don’t sign free agents once the schedule approaches the mid-point of the season. Don’t forget how much Richards’ play deteriorated in recent years, which is bound to work against him in contract talks. My guess is Richards could end up waiting until next summer for a new contract. Even then, he could face accepting a tryout offer next September to prove himself worthy of a new deal.