Kopitar deal reportedly close, Joel Quenneville second all-time in NHL coaching victories, latest on the Penguins sale and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

The Chicago Blackhawks’ ninth straight win moved head coach Joel Quenneville into sole possession of second place in career coaching victories. Details and more in last night’s NHL highlights.

 Notable NHL Headlines.

Kings center Anze Kopitar set to earn big bucks.

Kings center Anze Kopitar is  set to earn big bucks.

LAKINGSINSIDER.COM: Jon Rosen reports Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar is expected to sign a contract extension today. It’s expected the deal will be eight years in length at an annual cap hit of around $10 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal’s been close to completion for weeks now, but it seems they’ve finally worked out whatever nagging issues remained. It’s also around what I projected it would be regarding term and dollars.

Critics will claim Kopitar’s not worth it, but this is now the going rate for one of the NHL’s top two-way centers. Since 2007-08, he’s annually led his club in scoring and was also their leading playoff scorer during two Stanley Cup championship runs. Kopitar has proven himself as one of the NHL’s elite stars and deserves to be paid as one.

That contract also takes a huge chunk out of their cap space, pushing their payroll for next season to around $59 million.They can afford to re-sign pending free agents like Milan Lucic and to re-sign or replace the others, but it won’t leave much room for other significant additions. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was benched for more than eight minutes during his club’s 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season is shaping up to be the worst of Getzlaf’s career. The Ducks captain keeps making uncharacteristic blunders that are costly to his team. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Like the Toronto Maple Leafs before them, the Blue Jackets are feeling the pain of David Clarkson’s ridiculous contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the price they were willing to pay to dump Nathan Horton’s contract. They were willing to take on an overpaid player with declining skills who can still skate over one whose playing days are over. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Nail Yakupov scored in his first game back in the lineup since being sidelined in late-November by an ankle injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick, trade him now while his value is high…;)

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Goaltender Robin Lehner will be returning to the Sabres lineup this weekend for the first time since he was injured in the club’s season opener.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The big question: can the oft-injured Lehner remain healthy over the remainder of the season?

NBC SPORTS: The banged-up St. Louis Blues could face losing center Alex Steen to injury.

POST-GAZETTE: Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino (hand injury) is sidelined at least a month.

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Coyotes placed defenseman Stefan Elliott on waivers.

OTTAWA SUN: In a minor league deal, the Senators dealt defenceman Patrick Mullen to Nashville for defenceman Conor Allen.

TSN: A dispute between former NHL player Claude Lemieux and prominent agent Ritch Winter has now involved the NHLPA.

POST-GAZETTE: Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle denied a report claiming the sale of the club was called off over squabbling between the pair regarding the sale price.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Former NHL center Scott Gomez signed a PTO contract with the Capitals AHL affiliate in Hershey.