We all know who Anze Kopitar is. Alternate captain for the Los Angeles Kings, two-time Stanley Cup champion and an amazing elite NHL center. Though he doesn’t lead the league in points and goals every single year, he goes completely under the radar.
Seriously. The first-line center, who signed a huge extension with the Kings in mid-January, was snubbed in All-Star voting. What’s even worse? Many believe that it’s “not a big deal” that he was snubbed (such as some folks from alongtheboards.com).
But let’s put it this way. Kopitar is not your usually elite center. He is 6-foot-3 and weighs in at around 224 pounds, so for a centerman, he’s a pretty big guy. Not to mention that he has incredible speed and his passing skills are superhuman.
“We see him all the time, unfortunately,” San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture wrote about Kopitar. “Because he combines size, strength and intelligence, he’s as difficult to play against as any player in the league.”
What is ironic is that he used to be everyone’s go-to in the world of fantasy, as well as one of the top-rated centres in the National Hockey League. He’d be an easy pick for the All-Star game, and everyone paid attention to him.
But now, that’s all change. Kopitar is by far one of the most, if not the most, underrated centres in the league. Remember when Nicklas Backstrom was barely noticeable, and now he is an All-Star? Imagine this situation in reverse for Anze.
The Slovenian centre recently signed an eight-year extension and elected to stay with Los Angeles. He is usually a 60-point guy, guaranteed each year, and he possesses great skills and ability. This season, he may only have 13 goals, but he already has 29 assists, the 10th best in the league, and has 42 points through 49 games. Pretty decent, no?
This is why he is underrated. He is operating at nearly a point per game pace, yet he doesn’t get the same credit or respect as his fellow players. Sure, he ma not lead the league, but not everyone needs to be a superstar leading scoring in order to be considered elite.
Did we discuss his capabilities on the backend? He is one of the league’s rarest and best two-way forwards, and that is something he excels at. The Kings know his value; over the course of his contract, they will pay $80 million to keep him on board.
“He’s worth every penny of it,” Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter said. “A guy that’s good enough to do that, you win championships with players like that. A guy like Kopitar, his best years are in front of him.”