With his eight-year deal in place, the Los Angeles Kings will have Anze Kopitar locked up with a $10 million salary cap until he’s 36 years old. They’re also throwing a lot of cash at other 30-plus players.
One of the first things that went through my mind when word surfaced that Anze Kopitar was going to sign an eight-year deal worth $80 million was, are the Los Angeles Kings paying him for what he has already done for them? It’s hard to believe the Kopitar they have for $10 million a year on this deal is going to be as good as the one they had for $3.2 million less on his current contract.
Analytics tells us that Kopitar will decline, probably badly, toward the end of this deal. He likely has had his best years already, although with four goals and 18 points in his past 11 games, Kopitar will have one of the best offensive seasons of his career if he keeps scoring the rest of the season. And his defensive game has never faltered.
But he’s 28 and you’d have to think this might be one ugly looking cap hit toward the end of the deal. But a lot can happen between now and then and if there’s one GM who seems to be able to move onerous contracts, it’s Dean Lombardi. And the Kings had little choice. Either pay a player far more than he’s worth in the later years of the contract or risk losing him for nothing now when he still might have a couple of Stanley Cups left in him.
Or as teammate Dustin Brown said to Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times recently: “He’s been a key cog for us for 10 years. You take him off the team and we’re a dramatically different team.”
There is little doubt a deal of this magnitude will cause salary cap headaches for the Kings and could diminish their ability to sign a player such as Tyler Toffoli long-term, a player who in a few years will almost certainly be far more valuable to the Kings than Kopitar and a host of other veterans will. And looking down the road a couple of years, the Kings will have seven players in their lineup tied to big cap hits and long deals who will be 30 or older.
But they won’t be alone. In fact, they won’t even be the team that spends the most money on the 30-plus crowd. Here’s what each team, at this moment in time, has tied up in cap space in players who will be 30 or older in 2017-18:
Pittsburgh Penguins: $44.25 million (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Eric Fehr, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury)
Los Angeles Kings: $38.3 million (Kopitar, Brown, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, Alec Martinez, Jonathan Quick, Matt Greene)
New York Rangers: $37 million (Rick Nash, Derek Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Marc Staal, Daniel Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist)
Boston Bruins: $35.7 million (Patrice Bergeron, Matt Beleskey, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid)
Anaheim Ducks: $34 million (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano, Kevin Bieksa, Clayton Stoner)
Minnesota Wild: $31.8 million (Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk)
Detroit Red Wings: $30.3 million (Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green, Nicklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen)
Columbus Blue Jackets: $30.2 million (Brandon Dubinsky, Scott Hartnell, Fedor Tyutin, Jack Johnson, Nick Foligno, David Clarkson)
Washington Capitals: $29.5 million (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Jay Beagle)
Tampa Bay Lightning: $27.9 million (Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Erik Condra, Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman)
Chicago Blackhawks: $27.8 million (Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford)
Vancouver Canucks: $24.2 million (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Derek Dorsett, Jannik Hansen, Alex Edler)
Montreal Canadiens: $23.3 million (Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Carey Price)
New Jersey Devils: $22.3 million (Travis Zajac, Andy Green, Cory Schneider, Michael Cammalleri – not including Ryan Clowe on long-term injury list)
San Jose Sharks $22.2 million (Joe Pavelski, Joel Ward, Paul Martin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun
Ottawa Senators: $21 million (Bobby Ryan, Marc Methot, Craig Anderson, Clarke MacArthur)
Nashville Predators: $19.9 million (James Neal, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne)
New York Islanders: $19.7 million (Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin, Jaroslav Halak, Johnny Boychuk)
Toronto Maple Leafs: $19.4 million (Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Dion Phaneuf – not including Nathan Horton on long-term injury list)
Edmonton Oilers: $19.1 million (Benoit Pouliot, Mark Letestu, Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Cam Talbot)
Winnipeg Jets: $18.7 million (Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart)
St. Louis Blues: $18.3 million (Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Ryan Reaves, Jay Bouwmeester)
Dallas Stars: $17.9 million (Jason Spezza, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi)
Colorado Avalanche: $14.6 million (Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Cody McLeod, Francois Beauchemin, Nick Holden)
Florida Panthers: $14.6 million (David Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Roberto Luongo)
Philadelphia Flyers: $11.9 million (Claude Giroux, Matt Read)
Calgary Flames: $9.9 million (Matt Stajan, Mark Giordano)
Buffalo Sabres: $8.9 million (Matt Moulson, Josh Gorges)
Arizona Coyotes: $7.7 million (Brad Richardson, Mike Smith)
Carolina Hurricanes: $2.75 million (Eddie Lack)